News + Insights - Studio GL
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East Village Shopping Centre, Zetland

The silence of the (pandemic) sidewalk

“A successful place is sensual. All our senses are awakened, invited to take the site in, to touch the space in many ways… Sights, sounds, and scents foster immediate and direct impressions and remind us of past experiences that have their own emotional content. Great places call us to alertness, aliveness, full use of all dimensions of our humanity.”

-Edward T. White

The urban realm is a stage, a blend of the aural, visual and tactile that create a multidimensional experience for each individual. Designing spaces to stimulate these senses humanizes urban spaces and gives them a story, a story that is collectively shared by the community. One of the most significant social impacts of COVID-19 has been the inability to share these stories.

During the pandemic only few mourned the loss of blaring car horns, while many rejoiced in the songs of winged creatures (the occasional airplane included), but there has been a discernible silence felt within public spaces, spaces now void of the sounds we usually take for granted. With this lack of sonic diversity, we are now more conscious of some sounds than others. The incessant noise of construction activity in my suburb now seems louder than ever!

The movement of people forms part of the soundscape of the everyday, a cumulation of sounds that help instil a sense of safety as we move around the urban environment. The soundscapes of social interactions are essential in creating successful ‘third places’, which are described by urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg as places that ‘host the regular, voluntary, informal, and happily anticipated gatherings of individuals beyond the realms of home and work’. With fewer people on the footpath and no chatter in urban centres, the sound of my city has changed, reflecting this decline in social energy.

Recent events also provide an opportunity to redefine the sounds that characterise our neighbourhoods. We can ask if we still want the most discernible sound in our neighbourhood to be that of a siren or a plane? In the wake of the pandemic we have been gifted a portal to the future, and provided an insight into a city not dominated by the sounds of cars, but a city where you can hear the distant sounds of the church bells or the Azaan from a mosque.

Our longing to hear the buzz of the city and life in the streets makes us realise the significance of social life and appropriate soundscapes in these ‘third spaces’. But the delight in the new sounds of our neighbourhood also highlights the potential of letting some of these previously drowned sounds become a permanent part of our future.

By Chinmayi Holla
Urbanist/ Urban Planner

Meadowbank Education and Employment Precinct Preliminary Masterplan

Studio GL has been working with the Greater Sydney Commission to prepare a preliminary Masterplan incorporating ideas for an integrated, accessible and liveable Meadowbank Education and Employment Precinct. This precinct will include the relocation of Meadowbank Public School and Marsden High School, along with an investment of $154 million from the NSW Government to transform TAFE NSW Meadowbank into a technology-focused campus with brand new, purpose-built education facilities by 2022. 

The Masterplan is available for view online, and the Greater Sydney Commission is currently seeking community feedback from 24 October to 20 November 2019.  The link can be accessed as below:

For more information please visit:

The preliminary Masterplan identifies potential ways to create a highly connected Precinct that complements Meadowbank’s heritage and environment. It identifies open spaces within the Precinct; opportunities to locate industry and business in and around the Precinct; links to industry and local employment; potential infrastructure to support the Precinct over the long term, including public and active transport options; and ways to revitalise surrounding sites and grow productivity. The Masterplan will also deliver on the Greater Sydney Commission’s District Plan priorities – infrastructure and collaboration, liveability, productivity and sustainability.

Global #ClimateStrike

This Friday on September 20, three days before the UN Emergency Climate Summit, people around the world will join forces at the Global #ClimateStrike to confront the climate crisis. Studio GL supports the global climate strike and will be joining the march held in Sydney at The Domain from 12-2pm.


Australia is experiencing climate crisis in its various forms including drought, flooding, bushfires, severe cyclones, and heatwaves. Thousands of people are planning to take time off school and work to band together in solidarity for everyone who is affected and everyone who will be impacted if we don’t act.


For more information click here and to join the strike click here


A more unusual project, Studio GL were engaged by Molino Stewart to prepare photomontages in support of a Visual Impact Assessment for a proposed ‘Animatronic Dinosaur’ Exhibition at Scenic World in the Blue Mountains. The main aim was to ensure that proposed exhibition pieces would not compromise or impact on the heritage value of the area.

Studio GL worked with Molino Stewart to determine key vantage points and developed a technique that ensured the ‘dinosaur’ was carefully placed in its location with photomontages identifying the accurate height and orientation, and therefore visibility from public vantage points around the escarpment and along the popular Prince Henry Cliff Walk.

The exhibition titled Dinosaur Valley took place as a part of Scenic World experiences during Summer 2018-19, taking visitors on a journey through time to experience dinosaurs in their natural environment.

Community Engagement in Kiama

Studio GL has been engaged by Kiama Council to undertake a Kiama Town Centre study. The study will assist with Council’s planning and development work and to inform the direction of future strategic planning studies and policies.

An important part of the study was conducting stakeholder and community engagement activities, which focused on understanding what people like, what they consider as challenges, what their ideas for improvements are, and changes they would like to see in the town centre.

Our team at Studio GL are firm believers that the community are experts on their local area, its unique characteristics and quirks and what it’s like to live there. In line with our expectations from this community of engaged and concerned citizens, pouring rain and inclement weather did not deter the community from attending the drop in engagement event and providing their input.

Diana Griffiths presented at Local Character Symposium

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment hosted a one-day symposium to discuss key themes around local character. Diana Griffiths from Studio GL presented a framework to help define the physical components of local character. Over the years Studio GL have developed a Character Assessment Tool (CAT) to understand the role of the key contributors in shaping the character of a place. This tool serves as a guide for designers, planners, architects and community members to better identify what contributes to the physical elements of local character.

Community Engagement: Empowering Local Experts

“Successful places are more than just the physical bones of a place. They are a reflection of an engaged and empowered community.”

The theme for the June 2018 issue of the New Planner, a magazine of the NSW Division of the Planning Institute of Australia, guest edited by Philip Graus focused on Engaging the Community in City Shaping. Diana Griffiths from Studio GL wrote an article, ‘Community Engagement: Empowering Local Experts’, which focused on the need and methods for ongoing community engagement, in order to encourage informed debate around the scale and shape of possibilities for the future of our cities and towns.

The article recommends the use of various engagement strategies including online engagement tools and apps that allow people to participate in their own time, as well as intimate one-on-one or small group conversations that would encourage participation from those who might not feel comfortable participating in large group events.

Diana recommends using a threefold strategy inspired by Margie Warrell’s workplace management approach of Connect, Inspire and Embolden, to improve community engagement across NSW.

To read a brief summary of all the articles in the issue, by Philip Graus, please read:

To read Diana’s article, please click here.

Studio GL have moved!

Studio GL is delighted to announce that we have relocated to our new premises in Chippendale.
Please update your records with our new details. We look forward to seeing you soon!
Our new address:
77 Buckland Street
Chippendale NSW 2008
Ph: 02 9310 1800

LEA NSW Chapter 2018 Grants

The NSW Chapter of Learning Environments Australasia has announced that they will be running a grants program this year, in support of their 2018 theme of Real People, Problems, Responses.

Called Small Numbers, Big Thinking, the Grant will be awarded to two Learning Environments located in NSW, to enable them to undertake a project that will develop and enhance a teaching and learning area. Submissions are due by 30 March 2018, to

For additional information please refer to the link or visit LEA NSW website