Sustainable TEDx Event Toolkit

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North Wathba amongst projects announced for construction

Abu Dhabi approves raft of new projects
More on the North Wathba Master Plan.

"New homes will be built in areas such as Liwa, Nema, North Wathba and Al Hayer. The North Wathba residential project will be one of the largest to date, covering an area of 4,178 hectares and 13,150 new homes."

Shahama and Bahia Revitalization Masterplan launched

Photo credits: The National
The Shahama and Bahia Revitalization Project began in June 2008 with a Community Day held in Shahama to involve residents in the planning of their community.  After three years of intense planning efforts, involving 100 community members, multiple government agencies, and international consulting firms, the Shahama and Bahia Revitalization Masterplan has been launched.  More on the Shahama and Bahia Revitalization Master Plan.

City 7 News
TV story

The National

Gulf News

The Modern Majlis: Public Participatory Planning in Shahama and Bahia

Author: Lia Gudaitis
Published in: Al Manakh 2, Volume Magazine, April 2010. 
This text excerpt is from a photo-essay prepared for Volume Magazine's publication Al Manakh 2: The Gulf Continued. 

In a tent in Shahama on a sunny day in June of 2008, local residents from the surrounding communities gathered to engage with local and international planners to determine the future vision for Shahama and Bahia – an existing community of 25,000 people between Abu Dhabi city and Dubai.

Shahama and Bahia is a collection of four Emirati Neighbourhoods: Old Shahama, New Shahama, Old Bahia, and New Bahia along the mainland’s coast.  These neighbourhoods are planned communities composed of residential plots that are granted by the government to Emirati Nationals.  Old Shahama is one of the oldest suburban settlements of the city of Abu Dhabi, where Emirati Nationals were settled in the 1970s into permanent government housing from their temporary accommodation on Abu Dhabi Island.

To the government planners at the event, this was believed to be the first public participatory planning event for a government masterplan in the Gulf Region.  To residents, this was a modern extension of the Diwan, where leadership sits with residents in direct conversation about their needs, and of a Majlis, where community members engage with each other and discuss local issues.

Women, children, youth, men, seniors, teachers, shopkeepers, and widows from the surrounding areas participated in a plenary discussion to reveal their issues, dreams, and possible solutions for their community.  After lunch, residents and planners worked together in ‘hands on planning’ stations where ideas were shared, drawn, changed, and prioritized, and local assets and issues were identified spatially.  The men broke into stations on housing and streets, community facilities, transportation, and using the coast, while the youth gravitated towards the recreation and spaces station.  Women and children met in a separate room where they felt more comfortable to express their ideas.  The women covered all five of the station themes, while the children drew pictures of their community with volunteers in the children’s area.

To reflect on and share ideas, participants were brought back together in the main tent to present their work to the rest of the group and have discussions about the ideas generated.  For residents, these discussions resulted in some agreement, and some disagreement, and two lists were generated that the planners called “points of consensus” and “points of dilemma”.  These points permeate at all scales of the plan – from contrary visions for how Shahama and Bahia should grow, through to details of what sorts of activities should be permitted in recreational areas.  The points of dilemma were documented and continuously referred to throughout the planning process for Shahama and Bahia.  The points of consensus were expressed spatially by the team of planners into what was called the “Consensus Plan” – a plan that eventually formed the backbone of the concept for the Shahama and Bahia area.

Please note that all quotes here are translated from Arabic into English.

“Do not differentiate between the people of these areas in a sense that everyone gets the same treatment and the same rights.”
Problem: “There is a lack of cultural landmarks that reflect the country’s national identity.”
Problem: “We do not have coastal areas where we could enjoy our time as a family.”
Solution: “Use the empty lands that are in between the houses as small parks or sport facilities.  This will be easy for our children to access.”
Problem: “We do not have any place we can run and the sidewalks are very small.”
“I appreciate that you want to turn Shahama into Switzerland but we want our culture and traditions to be preserved.”
“There are no places for women to meet and socialise.”
“In my whole life I have never studied in a school that is modern and has facilities. We are bright students but are not given the right schools”
“I dreamt that I have married the King’s daughter. I woke up the next day and I found myself in the same place, nothing changed.  Dreams don’t come true.”
“The retired have served us and now they are sitting at home with no activities.”

Baniyas and South Wathba Revitalization Master Plan

Client: Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council
Project Manager: Lia Gudaitis
Master Plan Consultant: AECOM
SEA Consultant: Gillespies
Awards: Best Residential Project, Cityscape Awards MENA

The Baniyas / S. Wathba Revitalization Master Plan is a plan for the redevelopment of a 7000 ha historical community that includes urban, suburban, and rural areas.  Due to the environmental and social complexity of the area, the planning process included public engagement, a strategic environmental assessment, and developed indicators to guide planning decisions and measure the master plan against its objectives.

As project manager and project planner, my role was to manage all aspects of the project including: concept plan, detailed master plan, indicators, architectural guidelines, design guidelines, implementation plan, infrastructure plan, transportation plan, and public process and training.  I was responsible for organising workshops, leading the master plan's inter-agency Technical Review Committee, presentations to management and leadership, approving all consultant deliverables, and managing the approvals process.

North Wathba Master Plan

Client: Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council
Project Manager: Lia Gudaitis
Master Plan Consultant: Otak International
SEA Consultant: Atkins

The North Wathba Master Plan was the first master plan of the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council to test its new standards for street design, housing, neighbourhoods, community "green" standards, and community facilities, as well as being the first master plan to integrate a full Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) into the design process, and one of the first master plans to test Abu Dhabi's Strategic Transportation Master Plan, of the Department of Transport.

As project manager and project planner, my role was to manage the Request For Proposals process, finalise contracts and scopes of services, manage the team of consultants, manage and participate as lead planner on the Technical Review Committee, co-manage the SEA, organise internal workshops, and manage the master plan approvals process.

The master plan is a transit-oriented development that plans for transportation options, retains many existing natural features of the site, and includes a flexible design to adapt to changing housing needs and plot sizes.

Shahama and Bahia Revitalization Master Plan

Client: Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council
Project Manager: Lia Gudaitis
Consultant: Gillespies LLP
Additional Info: Film, Booklet

The first master plan of the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council called for the revitalization of the historical Shahama and Bahia communities, with Gillespies LLP as consultants.  The planning process began with the community first - prior to any planning and design exercises, a Community Day was held in Shahama to engage residents of all four existing neighbourhoods in establishing a vision for their area.  Local staff and volunteers were also trained in methods of Public Participation in order to build internal capacity.

As project manager and project planner, my role was to manage all aspects of the project on behalf of the client -- finalise contracts, scopes of services, and memoranda of understanding with partners, approve all deliverables, organise and run community events, organise training of volunteers and staff members, chair implementation committees, organise internal workshops, develop presentations for leadership, and write and develop all public documentation including a film, and exhibition and website materials.

The project included three main components: a concept plan for the wider area of 6000 hectares; a master plan for the existing communities (2500 hectares); and design guidelines to guide development in the area.  These visionary and ambitious plans became the backbone of the detailed master plan which is set for completion in 2010.


Public Involvement in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Al Ain, Baniyas, and Shahama.

As part of my work at the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC), I was very fortunate to work with existing residents in several of the "Revitalization" Master Plans at various stages of the master planning process. These public events saw the participation of a cross-section of stakeholders including women, children, youth, and seniors in determining the future of their communities.

Al Ain
For the revitalization of Al Ain's Central Business District, a Public Involvement Open House was held in February 2010 where professionals and residents explored Al Ain's existing assets, its future aspirations, and ways the plan can celebrate its existing assets, prior to the completion of the revitalization plan for Al Ain's Wasat Madinat.  The event was hosted by the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council, with Andres Duany as consultant.

Baniyas and S. Wathba
The Baniyas / S. Wathba Revitalization Master Plan involved community leaders and community members in several focus groups at the beginning of the planning process in August, September, and October 2009.

Shahama and Bahia
Residents of Shahama, New Shahama, Bahia, and New Bahia were invited to a Community Day held in Shahama in June 2008 as the kick-off to the planning process for the revitalization of their communities. Residents shared their problems, dreams, and solutions in an open forum, and then worked alongside professionals in a focused workshop session to create a "consensus plan" -- a spatial plan that captures the points of consensus shared by community members.

Khalifa City B Master Plan

Client: Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council
Project Manager: Lia Gudaitis
Consultant: Otak International
Additional Info: Film, Booklet

In its objectives to implement the principles of Plan Abu Dhabi 2030 at the community scale, the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council created several area master plans in 2008 on Abu Dhabi's Mainland, where the largest developments were being proposed. The Khalifa City B Master Plan was the first master plan of the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council to be completed.

As project manager, my role was to manage the decision making and design process of the plan, working with the team of consultants from Otak International, organising and facilitating cross-departmental and cross-organisational workshops, presentations to Abu Dhabi leadership, and setting up the approvals process for master plans.  I also developed all public documentation for Khalifa City A and B master plans, including a film, and exhibition and website materials.

Key outcomes of the Khalifa City B Master Plan included:
- establishment of an interim master plan approvals process
- establishment of interim community facilities standards
- establishment of an interim Land Use Classification System
- standardisation of public and internal master plan documents
- standardisation of design guidelines and development requirements, including definitions

[Multi]Culture and the City: The representation of culture in Toronto’s Cultural Facilities Database

Article, Canadian Journal of Urban Research, Summer 2008. Author: Lia Gudaitis. Co-author: Professor Martin Bunch.
[Multi] Culture and the City. Master's Thesis, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, May 2006. Lia Gudaitis
This abstract summarises an article published in the Canadian Journal of Urban Research based on my Master's thesis work, which explores the emerging paradigm of cultural planning, and how multiculturalism fits into this approach to planning.

As urban communities are increasingly becoming the primary sites of cultural convergence around the world, municipal governments are in the best position to address the conflicts and opportunities that arise from these localised intercultural exchanges. Rather than be the concern of a single municipal department, multicultural issues are revealing themselves in unexpected locations such as planning, cultural, and economic development departments. This research analyses one particular initiative by the City of Toronto to take stock of all cultural facilities in the city in order to illustrate how diversity issues, specifically multicultural issues, are still considered to be outside the purview of cultural, social, and economic municipal interests.

This paper uses three approaches to analyse: (1) the relationship between the locations of cultural facilities in Toronto and multicultural indicators found in the 2001 Canada Census of Population; (2) whether or not diversity issues are addressed in the database’s report and analysis; and, (3) to what degree Toronto’s Cultural Facilities Database focuses on a traditional conception of culture that represents hegemonic cultural values rather than an evolved conception of culture that is inclusive of all of Toronto’s cultural communities. The results of this research indicate that the conception of culture apparent in the City of Toronto’s Cultural Facilities Database is lagging behind social, cultural, and economic changes in the City’s cultural makeup over the last thirty years. If Canadian cities are genuinely committed to supporting multiculturalism and human rights, cultural facilities should be made accessible to multicultural communities – not only by being physically accessible to them, but also by adopting a conception of culture that is more inclusive of culturally marginalised groups, making culture in the city relevant to the wider audience of residents in Toronto.

Green, Live, Work, and Connect: Plan Abu Dhabi 2030 - The Film

Client: Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council
Project Manager: Lia Gudaitis
Filmmaker Consultant: Squint / Opera
Additional Info: Film

The Plan Abu Dhabi 2030 Film communicates the complex layers of the celebrated Urban Structure Framework Plan for Abu Dhabi under five themes:

// Green
// Live
// Work
// Connect
// Capital

The film illustrates the vision for Abu Dhabi`s future through 3-D modeling and animated sequences, highlighting Abu Dhabi as a contemporary expression of a sustainable Arab city.  It was designed from the onset to be easily edited into several lengths and adapted to various formats and audiences.

See the film here.
(you may recognise one or two characters in the film)

Towards a Metropolitan: Sustainable Tourism and Growth Management in Koforidua, Ghana

Client: New Juaben Municipal Assembly
Project Manager and Author: Lia Gudaitis
This abstract summarises the final report of recommendations regarding the development of two plans in a medium-sized West African city: a Growth Management Plan, and a Sustainable Tourism Development Plan. This report was the result of a 6-month placement I completed in the Planning Department of the New Juaben Municipal Assembly, as a joint partnership between the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Canadian Institute of Planners, and the New Juaben Municipal Assembly, Ghana.

The New Juaben Municipal Assembly is a local authority in Ghana’s Eastern Region. Efforts to decentralise political power have been employed in Ghana since the late 1980s such that local governments in the forms of District, Municipal, and Metropolitan Assemblies are responsible for the planning and implementation of many programmes in the country. As New Juaben grows in population and influence, it is important that decision-makers consider planning for the forthcoming responsibilities and opportunities that come with approaching Metropolitan status, especially in terms of town planning and tourism development.

City Beautification Initiatives in Ghana
- Summary of Tamale Metropolis' City Beautification efforts including plans for central area redevelopment, road and traffic improvement, public utilities and social services, a slum upgrading and improvement scheme, recreation facilities and landscaping, and the resettlement of fitters, hawkers, and allied informal commercial activities. Tamale is often praised for its visionary and effective planning, including being the first city in Africa to include bicycle lanes.

Sustainable Tourism in Ghana
- Summary of Sustainable Tourism in Ghana -- tourism initiatives that support local development while promoting natural and cultural conservation. The Community-Based Ecotourism Project is a successful initiative run by the National Conservation and Research Centre and the Ghana Tourism Board, and is funded by USAID and SNV – Netherlands Development Organisation. The first phase of the project saw the development and promotion of 14 ecotourism sites across the country, where funds raised are used to support local development projects and support conservation and protection of the sites.

New Juaben’s Assets and Resources
- Summary and analysis of some of the existing assets and resources of New Juaben that are relevant to the development of a Growth Management Strategy and a Sustainable Tourism Plan, including: Municipal Medium Term Development Plan, strategically aligning all developments in the municipality with its medium-term objectives; Creation of Zonal Councils, manageable spatial and administrative units; GIS-based map project; and, existing and upcoming funding mechanisms

Growth Management Strategy for the New Juaben Municipality
- Framework for the development of a Growth Management Strategy for the Municipality that includes: consultation and stakeholder workshops; GIS mapping; area masterplanning; distribution of community facilities; and, key infrastructure phasing.

Sustainable Tourism Plan
- Framework for a Sustainable Tourism Plan that strategically incorporates local ecological and cultural sites and assets into an existing network of eco-tourism sites developed in partnership with USAid.

Tools for Action: Analysing the Effectiveness of Community Indicator Projects in Realising Community Empowerment

Client: Social Planning and Reasearch Council of British Columbia
Author: Lia Gudaitis

This abstract summarises a report I prepared for a team of researchers from SPARC-BC. The project considers the effectiveness of community indicator projects in the province of British Columbia, Canada, by measuring the degree of empowerment and mobilisation experienced by the community as a result of developing community indicators. The final SPARC-BC report can be found here.

Indicators have been used for decades as social flags which identify a wide range of problems and needs in communities around the world. In Canada, indicators have been used to measure the incidence of farm injuries, smoking, the average length of stay in hospitals, herbicide application, and the incidence of motor vehicle accidents, to name a few. In England, indicators have been used to highlight spending on travel, suicide rates of young adults, community vibrancy, vulnerable mortgage holders, business health, and proportion of non-drivers who believe that public transport needs improving. These indicators shed light on important social, environmental, and economic trends and can help communities take command of what direction they would like to see themselves go.

Outcomes of BC indicator projects had not been measured, but through dialogues with organizations and individuals who had participated in these projects, it became apparent that outcomes of indicator projects varied as much as the indicator projects themselves. SPARC BC began to consider how to make a connection between indicator projects’ processes of indicator development and the resultant activities that have lead to change in their communities.

This research attempts to measure empowerment as a result of community indicator projects in British Columbia by asking to what degree do the processes of developing community indicator projects lead to increased community capacity and transformative actions in British Columbia communities? Borrowing from Karl (1995), the United Nations Development Programmes (2004), and Kendall (2005), we summarise empowerment as:

Empowerment is an on-going process involving both community capacity and transformative action which both perceptually and actually lead to greater power and control in the individual, organizational, community, and societal domains, in social, political, and economic spheres, leading to a just and healthy society for all.

Our research fits into this definition by considering perceived empowerment as community capacity and transformative action. We consider social, political, and economic spheres in terms of leadership, inclusion and participation, community resilience, resource development, and partnerships and collaboration.

Development Recommendations for Toronto neighbourhood: St. Clair + Christie

Final report for Urban Planning and Design Studio Workshop, April 2005.
This abstract summarises the proposal of a team of planners made after the intensive study of the social, politicial, cultural, economic, and ecological influences affecting the rapidly growing neighbourhood along the St. Clair corridor in Toronto. The proposal translates the plans and objectives of the City of Toronto's Official Plan at the neighbourhood scale, incorporating local values and priorities into the community plan. The full report includes site description, contextual analysis of social, environmental, housing, employment and economics, transportation and urban design issues, proposes a conceptual plan and a site development proposal, and explores the constraints and implementation of the project. This proposal was researched and developed by Lia Gudaitis, Joanna Kimont, Arlita McNamee, Laurel Raine, and Doug Stiles.

The goal of this project is to provide solutions to the City of Toronto in its objective to intensify the entire corridor of St. Clair Avenue. This proposal addresses the site located on the south side of St. Clair at Christie Street, occupying both the east and the west corners of Christie. Three main themes have been identified in this proposal: to provide a range of affordable housing options, to promote alternative methods of transportation and sustainable building design, and to maintain aspects of the character of the existing neighbourhood. With this in mind this proposal recommends the development of three distinct six storey buildings; two of which will be condominium buildings, and the third will be an apartment building. Affordability is achieved through minimal design and amenity expenses, as well as offering a range of unit sizes. One of the buildings will contain 90 rental units, including 45 social housing units. The other two buildings will contain a total of 136 affordable condominium units.

The exterior facades of the three proposed buildings will be designed with materials and architectural style similar to that of the current buildings in order to create continuity with the character of the existing neighborhood. The two buildings on the east and west corners of St. Clair and Christie will be preserved to maintain the identity of the corner. Continuity between the green spaces to the north and south of the development site will be created by installing green roofs on the top of the podiums of each of the three buildings, as well as allocating small plots for community gardening in the back of the building.

This proposal also recommends to extend the street design, to be implemented with the TTC Right of Way (ROW), from St. Clair along Christie St. to the new Green/ Arts Barns in order to create a visual connection and green corridor to the new park. Consistent with the environmental focus of this proposal, parking demands and peak hour traffic will be reduced by providing a variety of programs and incentives to encourage the use of alternative transportation.

The conceptual plan has three main thematic objectives: housing (to provide affordable, diverse housing options while increasing residential capacity along St. Clair Avenue); environment (to create environmentally sustainable options for residents by implementing green building design, providing alternate transportation options and capitalizing on existing public transit infrastructure); and community (to preserve and strengthen the existing neighborhood character, including social and cultural diversity, and to integrate the new Green/Arts Barns project into the existing neighborhood).

Culture + Planning

Presentation at the Planners for Tomorrow Forum, Vancouver, BC, 14-16 June 2006.

This document summarises the Culture and Planning presentation at the forum, a presentation that focused on the emerging role of cultural planning and cultural mapping in planning. The Cultural Economies salon was a co-presentation between Danielle Anisef, Lia Gudaitis, Jessica Park, and Andrea Winkler.

In the past, art and culture were considered to be of aesthetic value and mostly of concern to artists and patrons of the arts. In recent decades art and culture have moved into the realm of industry, as private interests have begun to understand the economic potential of cultural industries. As a reaction to this potential commodification of culture, UNESCO warned cultural industrialists in 1998 that cultural products are not like other trade goods, asserting that culture has additional social value which cannot be measured by market means.

“There is a code (langue), and this code is drawn on in each particular act of speech (parole). These are in a characteristic circular relation. The acts of parole all presuppose the existence of langue, but the latter is constantly recreated in the acts of parole. (Taylor, 1995: 134)

Some authors have used this quote from McGill University philosopher Charles Taylor to highlight the example that certain good things which are indisputably valued cannot be reduced to the sum of individual parts. Culture and the arts have intangible social values, and investments in cultural capital have offered many documented personal benefits, such as: improvements in academic performance; family-school relationships; marital prospects; physical fitness; and, children’s psycho-social development. Culture plays a vital role in attaining social capital, where culture is imperative in catalyzing a dialogue between individuals, and fostering shared cultural experiences across cultures.

In the 1970s, three interesting issues were raised in the national and international debates regarding culture and cultural policy: (1) the politicization of culture and whether or not planning cultural development is compatible with the ideologies of pluralistic societies; (2) the appropriateness of democratization of culture (which sees high culture being made available to a popular audience) versus; (3) cultural democracy (which sees the promotion among the mass of people of their own culture).

In the 1990s, Cultural planning emerged as a potential bridge between these ideas, claiming to expand the realm of cultural policy in perspective, definition, rationale, and vision. According to Baeker, characteristics of cultural planning include a more place-based approach where cultural development understands culture as a resource for human development. An expanded view of cultural resources that includes local cultural assets and resources with a bottom-up public approach bring cultural planning into a post-modernist framework (Baeker, 2002). Baeker has observed that:

[I]f we step outside the formal – and limited - structures of local government, it is at the community level where we can find some of the most innovative experiments in community-based problem solving. Some argue that this innovation reflects a shift from questions of government to new models of collective governance, focused on mobilizing resources and energies across the public, private and voluntary sectors. It is from some of these new governance models that cultural planning approaches can draw greater guidance and inspiration.” (2002:6)

Along with its cheerleaders, cultural planning has its critics, who argue its shortcomings. Debates in Canada regarding the role of multiculturalism in planning have made the following observations: (1) the planning profession is reluctant to account for ethnicity in planning decisions, and is not fully prepared to meet the needs of a changing society; (2) planners need to question the notion of a single ‘public interest’; and, (3) planners need to recognise that ethnicity and culture affect planning in a variety of ways. Marcia Wallace (1999) has summarised the literature on further inequalities exposed in the planning profession as follows:

Feminist activists within planning were analyzing gender inequalities (Moore Milroy, 1990). People of colour were drawing attention to racist practices in planning (Thomas and Ritzdorf, 1997). Gay and lesbian activists were addressing oppression affecting their lives in cities (Forsyth, 1997; Valentine, 1993). Today, multicultural difference is also becoming a category of analysis in planning (Sandercock, 1998) (1999: Ch.2).

While some authors suggest a planning revolution to undo the power structure of the planning profession (Sandercock, 1998), other experts suggest ways of tinkering with the present system such that it would better address diversity (Qadeer, 1997, 2000; Burstein, 2000). Recently, planners have been using the technique of mapping to give a voice to marginalized groups and to help illustrate localised culture. Cultural mapping, community mapping, green mapping, and asset mapping are all similar concepts that result from what some authors call the “democratisation” of data (Sawicki and Craig, 1996). These authors consider mapping as an important tool in planning, and specifically study the emerging role of GIS as a vehicle of change in helping community organisations assess needs.

In summary, the resurgence of cultural planning in cities, gives cautionary optimism. On the one hand, it conveys a determination to retain local identity and expression in a fast homogenizing world. On the other hand, the renewed municipal interest in culture seems to be preoccupied with ‘high-art’ and signature sites, which positions culture as a commodity. Returning, to the cautionary remark in the UN Habitat State of the World, it is important that culture is seen to encompass more than this, but rather be understood as the resources that foster the many needs and activities of everyday life.

Communicating Culture and Sustainability in Planning and Design

Plan of Study, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, 2004-6.
This abstract is a summary of the document that defined the focus and scope of my two-year master's program. Each issue described here represents dozens of courses and papers, as well as insight into my thesis work.

Early paradigms of planning concentrated on developing big plans which would bring order to the world’s new metropolises. In recent years, many planners have turned to a more inside out approach which addresses communities first, informing larger urban issues with local, neighbourhood knowledge and context. This approach helps address the economic and social disparities of neighbourhoods within municipalities. Large scale models are needed to connect common needs and interests of all citizens’, but attention to local values and interests ensures that all citizens needs are addressed in planning considerations. My area of concentration focuses on neighbourhood revitalisation, and how local knowledge can be used to plan and design more appropriately at the neighbourhood scale in such a way that it helps address existing values. The components of my studies are place and neighbourhood self-perception, planning compact complete communities, social and ecological sustainability and communicating culture through mapping.

I am particularly interested in exploring the impact that planning and design have on the lifestyles of people, and how to plan for multiple expressions of culture in the urban form. By exploring how people from different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds perceive their own neighbourhood, I hope to have a greater understanding of local needs and considerations which need to be taken into account in a community development plan or revitalisation effort. By investigating how culture manifests at the neighbourhood scale in communities which may slip under the radar of municipal cultural inventories, I hope to illustrate that public spaces in neighbourhoods are strong venues for creative expression, and that a better informed understanding of culture according to local knowledge, will create plans which are tailored to a community’s needs.
In addition to exploring culture at the neighbourhood scale, I am studying urban design and planning for inclusive and liveable communities that reflect the current needs of the modern city – walkable, transit-oriented, compact neighbourhoods that take into account ecological urban design principles to minimise their ecological footprint.

This plan focuses on the examination of space and place in order to better inform planning and design considerations at the neighbourhood scale, creating a more intimate urban setting by developing stronger links within communities. My plan explores the relationship between cultural, green and public spaces and their links with commercial and residential areas. This is accomplished by investigating local cultural values in a community, what is effective urban planning and design which encourages a sense of place, and how to plan effectively for social, cultural, and ecological sustainability.