Services Archives - Studio GL
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Research, Advocacy & Training

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

We are dedicated to expanding the knowledge of the practice and sharing this knowledge 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 are also passionate about sharing 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 we have found for training to be effective it needs to be structured to reflect and respond to these differences. Few people remember all the information presented as a lecture, but most remember more if they become involved during the learning process. For this reason, where possible, we aim to 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 by Bankstown City Council in 2015 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 workshops that were well attended and enthusiastically received by Council staff and won a commendation award from PIA NSW. Since 2018 Studio GL staff have regularly run PLANET training sessions on Local Character and Active Frontages both in person and online for PIA NSW.

“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

Urban Design Reports

Urban Design Reports provide an assessment of the physical and strategic context of a place and outline a design strategy for future development. Studio GL have prepared urban design reports that support Planning Proposals and Development Applications for developer and Local Government clients. We have also prepared reports for Local Councils that evaluate Planning Proposals and Development Applications prepared by others that identify where improvements could be made to the proposed urban design strategy for the site.

At Studio GL we understand the role urban design reports can play in shaping effective places, in creating certainty and in clearly communicating the opportunities and challenges for development and the impacts it will have on the wider urban environment. We are committed to providing solutions that are innovative, support good urban design outcomes and will deliver attractive built form that enhances the character of the local area.

Transport Urban Design

The successful integration of transport and interchange facilities into the wider context of the precinct or neighbourhood is a critical city shaping activity and is essential to ensuring that active and public transport modes are attractive, safe and well used and that they accommodate the needs of all customers including the elderly, children and those with reduced mobility.

At Studio GL we work to uncover the challenges and reshape the designs of every transport project, to improve their ability to create and support successful places for the long term, to create places which have a strong positive identity, are accessible by all and provide effective and safe interchange between modes for all users. Studio GL’s experience ranges from consideration of future regional rail corridors (Regional Fast Rail), detailed station and precinct designs (Sydney Metro) and detailed transport studies (MEEP Access Study, Wollongong Station Precinct Plan).

Studio GL staff have been working on integrated transport and urban design projects for over 10 years and from this experience we have learnt that effective station precinct and interchange design involves far more than just providing safe and attractive routes to the station and accommodating effective interchange between different modes of travel. It is also important to ensure places are legible, where public transport is easy to find and where it is supported by complimentary uses that are designed to encourage activation and passive surveillance throughout the day and into the evening.



Projects: Rhodes Station Precinct

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 (street and block layouts and possible 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 (developable area, % streets and open space, 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’s development.



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. Relevant projects include working with Transport for NSW on Regional Fast Rail, with the Committee for Sydney on the Meadowbank Education and Employment Precinct Master Plan and with the Department of Planning and Sydney Metro on developing a strategic approach for comparing new Metro Station locations, as well as developing a framework with Sydney Metro for the assessment of sites for deaccession, based on Moral Rights considerations.

We apply our skills on a wide range of projects ranging from identifying the strategic direction for entire districts, through plans for cities, regions and suburbs, down to options for individual sites and small precincts.



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

Workshop & Engagement

Effective community engagement allows local residents and stakeholders to be involved in the decision-making affecting the future of their places, their centres and their neighbourhoods. It strengthens good governance and informed decision-making on the part of 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 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 understanding of the vision, scope and opportunities of the place.

We have also found that developing a process that encourages 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 solutions to their issues, our 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.

We start by listening and then frame our engagement approach based on what will be most effective. We will engage on weekends, early mornings 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 online tools. We want to involve everyone and promote an environment of trust, participation and a sense of stewardship so that the local community, in all it’s diversity, can play a significant role in shaping their place.


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

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 have an adverse 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 any surrounding heritage values.

Members of the Studio GL team have created development controls for over 30 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.

Relevant projects include working with the City of Canada Bay to refresh their development controls for town centres and developing 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. We have also prepared development controls for the Nowra CBD via a series of workshops with Council staff, stakeholders and the local community to create development controls that were sensitive to the desired future character outlined in the Nowra CBD Master Plan. More recently we have developed DCP controls for the Kiama Town Centre which responded to community feedback, detailed heritage considerations and the influential landscape qualities of the place.



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

Town Centre Studies

Studio GL has been strengthening urban and regional town centres through good planning and design since 2013. We have identified that successful centres are the result of a complex amalgamation of character and context, structure and uses and many factors are needed to create centres with the right mix of services, amenities and convenience. Building on this knowledge we have found while every centre shares key drivers and attributes, each is different and unique, and the challenges of regional and suburban locations can be as significant as those of a central city location.

One of Studio GL’s first projects undertaken in 2013, was the award winning Five Dock Town Centre Urban Design Study. Since then, we have deepened this understanding of town centres in both regional and urban locations through numerous projects, research and conference papers, and various professional roles. We have applied our extensive knowledge to four Town Centre Masterplans in the Upper Hunter area of NSW (2015), the Kiama Town Centre Urban Design Report (2017), work with Wollongong Council on the historic Port Kembla Town Centre (2017), the St Ives Town Centre Built Form Study (2018), the Victoria Rd Drummoyne Urban Design Review (2018) and the Bowral Town Centre Study (2023). Through our involvement in all these projects we have found that the elements of a successful centre remain constant. These lively, attractive places are integrated and connected, vibrant well into the evening, diverse, comfortable to use, accessible for all, economically viable as well as memorable and unique.


Projects: Five Dock Town Centre Masterplan, Nowra CBD Development Controls, Cessnock Central ParklandsPanania Town Centre, Nowra Riverfront Precinct, Port Kembla Revitalisation


A masterplan (or Master Plan) is a strategic document that outlines a vision or framework for the development of a site, centre or precinct. Masterplans can range in scale from entire new neighbourhoods and university campuses to town centres and infill developments. Effective masterplans recognise that successful places are a result of carefully integrating the public and private domain, how one arrives and moves though a place, the physical shape of buildings and landscape and social, environmental, and economic context. Generally, masterplans identify the shape of desired development and how development and change will be coordinated, so that the existing place and the new can work more effectively to support vibrant and attractive places.

Well-designed masterplans also recognise that time is a critical element in the realisation of a masterplan. They build upon the history and heritage of the place and identify a strategy for implementation both in the short and long term.

The Studio GL team are specialists in developing masterplans. Our process is iterative, based on detailed analysis of the context, then exploring options through workshops, sketches, diagrams, hand drawing and computer modelling before finally explaining the vision though detailed technical documentation and high-quality graphics.

Studio GL have prepared masterplans and precinct plans covering a range of strategic residential and precinct design projects, for private developers and local and state government across Australia. We have created concept designs for low and medium rise dwellings, apartments, mixed-use buildings, and precinct scale sites that demonstrate the opportunity for site or precinct wide development, with appropriate access, setbacks, privacy and a built form that is sympathetic with the local area. These projects have used Studio GL’s experience and knowledge to produce plans with an emphasis on the creation of places that are efficient, enhance the location and meet the needs of future communities.


Projects: Five Dock Town Centre Masterplan, Three Rivers Retirement CommunityCoastal Waters Retirement Village, Nowra Riverfront Precinct, Port Kembla Revitalisation