For the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population
is living in a city. How to make increasingly dense and complex urban
environments sustainable and desirable places to live, work and play is
becoming an urgent question globally.
“We see the world focusing
on the whole question of an urban future, what it means and how we will
have to live differently in this context,” says Professor Alec Tzannes,
Dean of the Faculty of Built Environment at University of New South
need to better understand the urban fabric, including roads, parks,
service infrastructures and buildings, measure their carbon emissions
and improve them through design and better management.”
He says research and
study into the built environment - while still considering architecture
and other design disciplines in a cultural context - now extends to
issues such as sustainability, density, urban typologies and the
advancement of digital technology applied to design and urban
interdisciplinary knowledge framework will increasingly become central
to the way cities are designed, delivered and managed in the
twenty-first century – which is particularly relevant to the rapidly
urbanising countries within our Asia-Pacific region.
At UNSW, students have the
opportunity to study and research these emerging disciplines in an
environment which fosters innovation and debate.
In Sydney, Australia’s
most complex and international city, urban planning, urban design and
architecture is dealt with in a uniquely open and democratic way, says
For example, major
planning decisions, such as the current endeavour to redevelop part of
Sydney harbour at Barangaroo, are contested and debated in the media and
subject to independent and transparent public scrutiny: there are very
few countries in Asia or beyond which foster this culture of public
engagement and debate on matters to do with the built environment.
“Australia, and Sydney in
particular, have advanced laws underpinning the culture and practice of
built environment disciplines,” says Professor Tzannes.
“Students are exposed
to learning experiences that allow them to think more broadly and
examine from different perspectives their own experiences, and apply
what they learn here with critical perspective to the culture and
practices within their own countries.”
UNSW Built Environment is
also home to the City Futures Research Centre, which has built a strong
profile in urban and housing policy research in Australia and overseas.
One current major research project involves building three-dimensional
city maps then loading in complex information about the population and
population growth, so that impacts like traffic growth and demand for
services can be accurately predicted. In effect, researchers can
“visualize” the cities of the future – and their challenges and problems
using the power of innovative digital technology.
Students engage daily with
issues affecting the city, including its design culture, politics,
property and financial structures with access to data and informed
public debate that is not easy to find in many other parts of the world,
Professor Tzannes says. UNSW Built Environment is also setting the
agenda in terms of providing evidence-based knowledge to government and
major corporations to guide new policy and strategic decisions.
It recently signed a
memorandum of understanding with the Council of the City of Sydney to
work together in the areas of sustainability, affordable housing and
other key urban issues. The Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, said the
collaboration between UNSW Built Environment and the City of Sydney
would align research activities with the needs of Sydney to achieve
leadership, vision and the implementation of the 2030 plan for a more
sustainable, liveable city.
“We are making a very relevant contribution which will impact the
future. What we are researching as well as our teaching curriculum is at
the centre of where our graduates will need to be when they are working
and contributing through their own innovation and research to the
world’s issues,” says Professor Tzannes.
UNSW Built Environment
offers a wide range of specialised degree programs designed to equip
graduates with a suite of skills that will set them up for leadership
roles in the design, management and delivery of the built environment in
a contemporary and global context.