USC academic joins debate on urban development | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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USC academic joins debate on urban development

Research, experience and daubs of humour will be on display when six architecture, design and housing industry experts join the Sunshine Coast Open House 2021 Debate to thrash out how the region should grow post-pandemic.

The debate at USC’s Innovation Centre auditorium from 6pm on Friday 22 October will tackle a provocative topic in the region, ‘Up or Out – Increasing density in existing urban areas is the future for the Sunshine Coast’.

USC Senior Lecturer in Urban Design and Town Planning Dr Nicholas Stevens will base his opinions on his recent research results, which identified the need for significant changes in public space design due to COVID-19 social distancing, lockdowns and travel restrictions.

Dr Stevens said planners had to work out how to protect people’s personal space in an era when more people were using limited outdoor spaces available in local neighbourhoods.

“That’s the core of it: How do we change neighbourhoods to offer people safe choices in how they live their lives, and in how their children live in the future?” he said.

“It’s about community wellbeing and public green space as an adaptable health asset. Can we intensify urban development to use our existing urban footprint in more efficient ways?

“This debate is important community education and advocacy for the Sunshine Coast.”

Dr Stevens said USC’s degree in urban design and planning was vital to provide a future professional workforce of creative and clever problem-solvers and forward thinkers.

The five other debaters will be Kerry Clare, architect and director of Clare Design; Bronwyn Adams, project manager, SunCentral; Phil Smith, architect, urban designer and director, Gomango Architects; Dr Laurel Johnson, city and social planner; and James Birrell, landscape architect and director at Place Design Group.

The winning team will be declared by Malcolm Middleton, Immediate Past Queensland Government Architect and Chair of Brisbane Open House.

The debate, to be moderated by urban designer Cathryn Chatburn, is part of this month’s 2021 Sunshine Coast Open House program, the region’s largest public architecture and design festival featuring public tours and experiences.

This Saturday 23 October, USC Art Gallery Manager Megan Williams will offer tours of the Gallery on campus at Sippy Downs.

And members of the public who attend participating Open Houses this weekend, 23-24 October, can submit entries in the 2021 Focus on Architecture Photography Competition, which will be judged by a panel including USC Lecturer in Photography Dr Tricia King.

For details and bookings go to

Sunshine Coast Open House, which is part of the Open House Worldwide network, receives support from the Sunshine Coast Council Cultural Heritage Levy, The Australian Institute of Architects and other corporate partners.

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