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Urban Design Training

Studio GL is a keen advocate of urban design and the role it plays in the creation of attractive and effective places. As a company we are always looking for opportunities to share our knowledge and expertise with others. Our team of skilled urban designers are experienced in both urban design and the development and delivery of courses in urban design at a university level.

People learn in different ways, so in order for the training to be effective it needs to be structured to reflect and respond to these differences. Few people remember all of the information presented as a lecture, but most remember more if they are involved during the learning process. For this reason we create an educational structure that is targeted for the specific audience and that incorporates not only lectures but also walking tours, small group discussion and self-guided learning.

Studio GL were engaged in 2015, by Bankstown City Council, to run a series of training workshops for Council’s Development Assessment and Strategic Planners in order to enhance their understanding of urban design concepts and the recent changes to SEPP 65 and the Apartment Design Guide. Working closely with Council staff we developed a series of three workshops that were well attended and enthusiastically received by Council staff.


“Terrific – just what I was hoping for. It also seemed to cover the varied experience and roles of participants which is always a challenge.”


“Excellent session, looking forward to the next and to see how this can be incorporated into future planning for the LGA.”


Projects: Urban Design Training


The built environment is complex, adapting and continually evolving and at Studio GL we recognize these challenges through our commitment to lifelong learning. We ae continually evolving, building upon our experiences and testing our assumptions to create the best places that we can.

We are dedicated to expanding the knowledge of the practice and sharing this knowledge with the industry through research, seeking out new ideas and training and education. We take what we have learnt and apply it to our projects and use our knowledge “in the field” to strengthen our research. We have found that fascinating and effective solutions can be created by taking ideas from one area of practice and applying them to a different area of focus.


Projects: Seniors Living Product Guide

Residential Design

At Studio GL we believe that good design makes a difference whatever the scale of the project and we seek to ensure all our designs are attractive and practical. Studio GL have undertaken a number of small residential projects, focusing on providing outcomes that suit the needs of the client, These projects have utilised Studio GL’s experience and knowledge of sustainability and buildability to produce schemes that are efficient and cost effective, with an emphasis on the creation of places that enhance and support the people who live there.


Projects: Shed House, Concord West Residence

Commercial Upgrades

Often small simple upgrades can significantly improve the usability and presence of a commercial space. Focusing on functionality and cost effective options, Studio GL has managed the upgrade of a number of small commercial suites. These projects have been effectively and efficiently project managed by Felicity Lewis whose tasks have included the sourcing of materials and the hiring and managing of various tradesmen.


Transport Urban Design

The successful integration of transport and interchange facilities, ranging from train stations or light rail to bus stops, into the wider context of the precinct or neighbourhood is crucial to ensuring that active transport modes are attractive safe and well used and accommodate the needs of all customers including the elderly, children and those with reduced mobility.

Good station precinct and interchange design involves more than just providing safe and attractive routes to the station and accommodating effective interchange between different modes of travel. It also requires places that are legible, where public transport is easy to find and where it is supported by complimentary uses that are designed to ensure activation and passive surveillance.

At Studio GL we work on the strategic design of station precincts as well as seeking to uncover the challenges and reshape the designs to improve their identity, accessibility and interchange effectiveness.


Projects: Rhodes Station Precinct

Development Controls

Development controls are a critical step in shaping future form and delivering the desired qualities of the place. They outline the type of development that is desired and coordinates development on different sites to ensure that the existing and the new work together to create effective and attractive places.

Development controls help establish a built form that reflects the desired future character, ensuring that new buildings do not impact on significant view corridors while improving the visual appearance and amenity of the area, encouraging passive environmental design, identifying opportunities for civic space and fine grain pedestrian connectivity, and is sympathetic to surrounding heritage values.

At Studio GL our staff members have created development controls for well over 15 years, working on behalf of both private and government organisations. Our team are specialists in writing, testing and refining development controls. Our process is iterative, exploring the impact of various options through workshops, diagrams, artist impressions, computer modelling and detailed technical documentation.

Recent relevant projects include working with the Canada Bay Council to refresh their develop controls for town centres and develop detailed controls for the Five Dock Town Centre where a key requirement of the Development Control Plan was to accommodate increased height and FSR without compromising the “village character” of the centre. More recently we have prepared development controls for the Nowra CBD. Through a series of workshops with Council staff, stakeholders and the local community we created development controls that were sensitive to the desired future character outlined in the Nowra CBDMaster Plan.


Projects: Nowra CBD Development Controls, Canada Bay Development Control Plan, Planning & Built-form Controls

Feasibility Pre-Design

At the early stages of a project it is often difficult to determine an appropriate built form for a site or precinct. At Studio GL we are skilled at providing basic concept plans (building envelopes) that show the scale of potential built form massing on the site and development area schedules that show the assumptions and high level area calculations (GFA, NFA, FRS, car spaces).

Typically we start the process by identifying the physical and planning constraints and carrying out a photographic study to identify the urban design qualities of the local area such as sunlight access, coherent built form alignment, active frontages and the positive contribution made by trees and vegetation. We also review the existing relevant planning controls and policies and prepare a short summary of the planning constraints affecting the site.

This approach to design allows rapid testing and initial feasibilities to be prepared and is valued by landowners, developers and local councils alike when setting appropriate built form controls for a site or during the early stages of a project.


Projects: Urban Infill Concept & Feasibility Analysis, Concept Design & Feasibility Analysis, Planning & Built-form Controls, Urban Design Review

Strategic Thinking & Planning

The creation of attractive buildings, places, towns and cities doesn’t occur by accident. To be successful in shaping the future of these areas it is necessary to consider and manipulate the complex layering of forces that shape the buildings, streets and activity of a place. At Studio GL we relish the opportunity to move beyond the “now” and explore the “what might be”.

We are skilled at synthesising different types of information, combining the physical, social and temporal and moving beyond the superficial to develop a compelling vision for the future. Because of this ability to identify problems or envisage a different way forward we are often asked to work with others in helping to solve their complex and “wicked” problems.

We apply our skills on a wide range of projects ranging from buildings and small precincts up to assisting to identify the strategic direction for entire districts.


Projects: Strategic Centres, Rhodes Station Precinct, Nowra CBD Development Controls, Five Dock Town Centre Urban Design Study

Community Engagement

Good community engagement allows local residents and stakeholders to get involved in the decision-making affecting the future of their places, their centres and their neighbourhoods. It enables good governance and informed decision-making on part of the local government, while sharing the responsibility and stewardship of a place with the local community.

At Studio GL we have found that enabling and encouraging ‘local experts’ to be involved right from the beginning, allows the design and planning team to get a rapid understanding of key issues and areas of concern as well as a good initial understanding of the vision, scope and opportunities of the place.

We have also found that developing a process that allows ongoing engagement allows for concepts and ideas to be tested by the local community making the design and feedback process a truly iterative one. While the community doesn’t always have the perfect solution to their issues the team’s technical expertise provides an opportunity to take the ideas and aspirations of the local community and shape, strengthen, translate and transform them into meaningful public spaces and places.

At Studio GL we start by listening to our client and then frame our engagement approach based on what the community tell us will be most effective. We will engage on weekends, breakfasts or evenings and we often “take the project” to where the local people can be found be it a park, a market or outside a supermarket. We recognise that people are different and want to engage in the process in different ways. Our process may use workshops, presentations or posters, images, diagrams or cartoons, surveys, interactive activities and on line tools. We want to involve everyone and promote an environment of trust, participation and a sense of stewardship so that the local community can play a significant role in shaping the final outcomes.


Projects: Nowra CBD Development Controls, Five Dock Town Centre Urban Design StudyPort Kembla Revitalisation

Educational & Community Design

People are fundamentally at the core of design. It is essential to focus on what people need from their community buildings in order to create a facility that will operate as a social, cultural and intellectual hub. Successful community facilities are lively places encouraging a variety of activities and providing for people at all stages of life from the very young to the elderly. These spaces need to be user-focused and service-rich, linking their community with the wider world through the provision of information technology, facilities and opportunities.

Schools and other educational facilities often operate as a form of community facility and they have undergone a significant transformation within the last twenty years. The days of individual classrooms where a teacher instructed 30 students, orderly arranging in rows of desks, from a whiteboard at the front of the room are long gone. As has the idea of a school only operating for a part of the day for a portion of the year, with many of these facilities supporting the concept of continual learning in co-operation with the wider community.

Educational design is now focused on the provision of vibrant, interactive, supportive spaces that enable teachers to facilitate the learning of all students in a diverse, responsive way. Studio GL staff have gained extensive experience over many years in designing spaces that support this new educational pedagogy, through a range of projects for various Government and Catholic educational institutions.

Specifically Felicity Lewis’s extensive experience covers early childhood learning, through Primary and Secondary facilities, to TAFE and University projects including Mia Mia Child and Family Study Centre at Macquarie University, Corpus Christi Primary School Cranebrook, McCarthy Catholic College Trade Training Centre, as well as a wide range of community buildings, ranging from libraries, such as the Chester Hill Library and Knowledge Centre, to community centres. The key theme throughout all these projects has been the involvement of the community in the design and development of the project.


Projects: Mayfield Project