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Cities as Playgrounds

New Models for Urban Play, Civic Engagement and Sociality

Playgrounds are physical manifestations of how we do urban play and civic engagement and are as such in situ places to play with present and future scenarios. The metaphor of the playground is fertile ground for talking about, and playing with, intergenerational connection in public space. It can be a way of rethinking urban design which puts people and play at the centre.

This creative and interdisciplinary workshop brought together international experts across playable cities artists, game designers, ethnographers, play theorists and designers to consider the possibilities of action research and co-design experiments in and around the Superilla located outside of RMIT Europe as part of Barcelona’s Design Week.

We deployed the Superilla as a prompt, invitation, interface and living lab for codesigning for inclusive and playful urban futures.

Visit the ToyBox website.

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Larissa Hjorth
Distinguished Professor and Director, Design and Creative Practice
School: Enabling Capability Platforms

RMIT staff profile
larissa.hjorth@rmit.edu.au

Larissa Hjorth is a digital ethnographer, artist, Distinguished Professor and director of the Design & Creative Practice ECP platform at RMIT University. With Professor Heather Horst, she co-founded the Digital Ethnography Research Centre (DERC). Previously, Hjorth was Deputy Dean, Research & Innovation, in the School of Media & Communication (2013−2016). Hjorth served on the inaugural Australian Research Council (ARC) Engagement & Impact Pilot study assessment panel for humanities and creative practice.

Hjorth studies the socio-cultural dimensions of mobile media and play practices in the Asia-Pacific region with an emphasis on interdisciplinary, collaborative and cross-cultural approaches. She has published a dozen co-authored books, edited over a dozen Handbooks/​Companions and has over 40 journal articles. 

More recently, Hjorth’s work has become concerned with how we can bring creative, social and design solutions to the growing ageing populations and, in turn, how we might consider scenarios of what it means to die well. She is also studying how our more-than-human” companions can teach us about new media in everyday life. Hjorth’s last book, Haunting Hands (Oxford Uni Press) looked at how mobile media is being deployed in situations of grief and trauma, her previous book explored how art practice can teach us new acumen into the climate change debate.

Hjorth’s books include Haunting Hands (with Cumiskey 2017), Screen Ecologies (with Pink, Sharp & Williams 2016), Digital Ethnography (Pink et al. 2016) Mobile Media in the Asia-Pacific (2009), Games & Gaming (2010), Online@AsiaPacific (with Arnold 2013), Understanding Social Media (with Hinton 2013), and Gaming in Locative, Social and Mobile Media (with Richardson 2014).

Playable City Melbourne

Making the City a Platform for Play

Playable cities connect people and place through creative technologies, making the city a platform for play. Playable City Melbourne is a three-year project bringing together an interdisciplinary urban play community.

During Melbourne International Games Week 2019, Playable City Melbourne is calling for a diverse community of designers, game developers, scientists, writers, architects, artists, producers, performers, players, bureaucrats etc to learn more about urban play and join in the conversation. This conference will explore other ways of being in public space, First Peoples connection to place, and more-than-human infrastructure. Playable City Melbourne talks to the city’s multi-layered civic identity – as a creative city, technological city, a diverse and multicultural city, knowledge city and liveable city that is growing fast.

Playable City Melbourne website.

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Troy Innocent
VC Research Fellow
School: School of Design

Personal website
troy.innocent@rmit.edua.u

Dr Troy Innocent is an artist, academic, designer, coder, educator, and VC Senior Research Fellow at RMIT University, where his creative practice research explores the city as platform for play through an inventive blend of live art, game design and public art. Over the past ten years he has explored the lived experience of cities through mixed realities; situating his work in Melbourne, Bristol, Barcelona, Istanbul, Ogaki, Sydney and Hong Kong. As Melbourne Knowledge Fellow, Innocent expanded his urban codemaking’ practice for situating play in cities to develop Playable City Melbourne, a three-year project bringing together an interdisciplinary urban play community. He is currently artistic director of 64 Ways of Being, a playable city-wide platform for augmented reality experiences supported by a Creative State Commission.

Care-full Design Lab

Transformational Design Done Care-Fully

Doing care-full design calls for new ways of thinking about values, methods, and the scale/​speed of how we do research, as well as who needs to be engaged in what way and when. It requires strong experience in transdisciplinary research and practice, and capacity to balance creativity-criticality and strategic-tactical approaches in an agile manner. Care-full Design Lab brings together a unique group of researchers with these capabilities to become an internationally leading catalyst for transformational urban future-making.

Key areas
Creative care for health and wellbeing
Future-making in the more-than-human worlds
Co-creation of inclusive, sustainable, and playful cities
Response-able methods of research, practice, and engagement
Reconciling care, rights, and ethics surrounding emerging cyberphysical systems

Find out more about the Care-Full Design Lab

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Jaz Hee-jeong Choi
Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow
School: Design and Social Context

Personal website
jaz.hee-jeong.choi@rmit.edu.au

Dr Jaz Hee-jeong Choi is a Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow at the Digital Ethnography Research Centre at RMIT. Previously, she was a Founding Member and the Director of the QUT Urban Informatics Research Lab, a transdisciplinary research group exploring and designing at the intersection of people, places, and technologies. She also founded the SIGCHI FoodCHI Network. 

She is an advocate for transdisciplinary research, carefully balancing creativity and criticality. Her approach to urban sustainability recognises play’ as the core of transformative interactions in cities as complex techno-social networks. She builds on this to explore how various forms of digital and playful experiences are designed and evolve in different cultural contexts. Her current research explores designing with and for care for liveable and equitable urban futures across three inter-related domains: wellbeing and ageing; impactful research methods, and; co-creative urban transformation. 

She has collaborated with leading international researchers, published in books and journals across various disciplines, and given invited talks at major international conferences including the inaugural Global Social Economy Forum in 2013 and the opening keynote at the 2010 UNESCO Creative Cities Conference.

Colored and Patterned Solar Building Skin

Solar Panels for Creative and Sustainable Urban Design

Innovative design of solar modules enables new possibilities for their integration into new and old buildings, historical sites, public urban spaces, landscapes and media façades. When the characteristics of conventional Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) modules are modified with technological advances in colour and appearance, it opens up a whole new approach to creative, innovative and sustainable urban designs. 

RMIT’s Dr Rebecca Yang partnered with City of Bendigo (Aurecon IEA PVPS Task 15 BIPV) for this project to display the approach to using coloured BIPV, wherein good architectural form is given to function and applied to make PV electricity part of our natural and cultural environment. The coloured and patterned solar panels form a paradigm shift in solar applications because of their aesthetic appeal and power generating attributes. These BIPV solutions could be adapted in variety of materials, colours and shapes that can be seen today in the centre of cities, where a diversity of buildings from different eras and construction solutions coexist with each other.

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Rebecca Yang
Senior Lecturer
School: Construction Management

RMIT staff profile
rebecca.yang@rmit.edu.au

Rebecca Yang has developed a strong and passionate commitment to industry-focused research and teaching. Her research resonates with RMIT’s vision of transforming the built environment to create sustainable and resilient cities, and her current research focuses on solar energy applications in buildings, and construction innovation. She is the leader of Solar Energy Application Group. She is the leader of Solar Energy Application Group and the Australian expert in International Energy Agency PVPS Task 15 BIPV.

Games of Being Mobile

First National Survey of Mobile Games in Australia

This project contextualised mobile games as part of broader practices of play, both in the home and extending out into neighbourhoods, urban public spaces and online networks. The Games of Being Mobile project followed nearly sixty households over three years (2013– 2016) in five of Australia’s capital cities: Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane. It is the first national survey of mobile games. 

The project identified the diverse agencies of mobile media users and players, and the multiple modalities of play. As we face a challenging future, it is our hope that the power of mobile games and playful practices can fuel innovative forms of care, mindful engagement and ethical sociality.

View the report here.

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Larissa Hjorth
Distinguished Professor and Director, Design and Creative Practice
School: Enabling Capability Platforms

RMIT staff profile
larissa.hjorth@rmit.edu.au

Larissa Hjorth is a digital ethnographer, artist, Distinguished Professor and director of the Design & Creative Practice ECP platform at RMIT University. With Professor Heather Horst, she co-founded the Digital Ethnography Research Centre (DERC). Previously, Hjorth was Deputy Dean, Research & Innovation, in the School of Media & Communication (2013−2016). Hjorth served on the inaugural Australian Research Council (ARC) Engagement & Impact Pilot study assessment panel for humanities and creative practice.

Hjorth studies the socio-cultural dimensions of mobile media and play practices in the Asia-Pacific region with an emphasis on interdisciplinary, collaborative and cross-cultural approaches. She has published a dozen co-authored books, edited over a dozen Handbooks/​Companions and has over 40 journal articles. 

More recently, Hjorth’s work has become concerned with how we can bring creative, social and design solutions to the growing ageing populations and, in turn, how we might consider scenarios of what it means to die well. She is also studying how our more-than-human” companions can teach us about new media in everyday life. Hjorth’s last book, Haunting Hands (Oxford Uni Press) looked at how mobile media is being deployed in situations of grief and trauma, her previous book explored how art practice can teach us new acumen into the climate change debate.

Hjorth’s books include Haunting Hands (with Cumiskey 2017), Screen Ecologies (with Pink, Sharp & Williams 2016), Digital Ethnography (Pink et al. 2016) Mobile Media in the Asia-Pacific (2009), Games & Gaming (2010), Online@AsiaPacific (with Arnold 2013), Understanding Social Media (with Hinton 2013), and Gaming in Locative, Social and Mobile Media (with Richardson 2014).


Hugh Davies
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
School: Games

Personal website
hugh.davies@rmit.edu.au

Hugh Davies is an artist, curator and researcher of games and play. His practice explores histories of media devices and cultures of games in the Asia Pacific Region. Awarded a PhD in Art, Design and Architecture from Monash University in 2014, Hugh’s studies in game cultures have been supported with fellowships from Tokyo Art and Space, M+ Museum of Visual Culture and the Hong Kong Design Trust. Hugh is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at RMIT in Melbourne, Australia.


Ingrid Richardson
Professor
School: Media and Communication

RMIT staff profile
ingrid.richardson@rmit.edu.au

Professor Ingrid Richardson has been teaching, supervising and researching in the fields of digital media, mobile media and games for over twenty years. She has a broad interest in the human-technology relation and has published widely on the phenomenology of games and mobile media, digital ethnography and innovative research methods, the relation between technology use and wellbeing, and the cultural effects of urban screens, wearable technologies, virtual and augmented reality, remix culture and web-based content creation and distribution. Ingrid has led or co-led 14 funded research projects, the most recent being an ARC DP [Games of Being Mobile] with Larissa Hjorth. She is contributing co-editor of Studying Mobile Media (Routledge, 2011) and co-author of Gaming in Social, Locative and Mobile Media (Palgrave, 2014), Ambient Play (MIT, 2020), Understanding Games and Game Cultures (Sage, 2020), Exploring Minecraft: Ethnographies of Play and Creativity (Palgrave, forthcoming), and Mobile Media and the Urban Night (Palgrave, forthcoming). Ingrid brings ten years’ experience in university-level HDR management and during this time has actively championed and supported creative methods and practice-led postgraduate research. Over the past five years she has also developed a passion for teaching critical web literacy skills to undergraduate students across all disciplines.

Haptic Pathways

Co-Designing Inclusive, Civic and Sensorial Moments in the City

Haptic Pathways is the winning entry for the 2019 DCP Design Challenge.

The 2019 Design Challenge was a joint initiative between the City of Melbourne and the Design & Creative Practice ECP which sought to tackle the real-world issue: How do we design for inclusive cities?

Haptic Pathways reimagines the suburban street creating diverse sensory experiences that explicitly include urban residents or visitors of all mobilities and neurodiversities. The project intends to create everyday incidental urban pathways that focus on the under-emphasised and under-explored facets of sensory connection, such as touch and smell. These immersive nature experiences will include such design elements and interventions as block plantings of native species; accessible sensory spaces; and braille graffiti walls.

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If you would like to get involved with this project, fill out the form below or reach out to project leaders via the contact info provided alongside each bio.

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Freya Thomas
Research Fellow, ICON Science
School: Centre for Urban Research

freya.thomas@rmit.edu.au

Botanist, quantitative plant ecologist; Research Fellow, ICON Science, Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University Melbourne. Freya is a plant ecologist working as a Research Fellow at RMIT on an ARC-Linkage project which focuses on designing urban green spaces for human wellbeing and for biodiversity.

Freya is a botanist whose professional work has spanned many Australian ecosystems and she has a thorough knowledge of Australian native flora. Her PhD focused on building and evaluating quantitative predictive models of plant growth. She also has experience working for the State Government on developing and implementing long term vegetation monitoring programs. Her current research at RMIT focuses on evaluating how urban green spaces influence human wellbeing but also how plant choice in cities influences other organisms like birds, bees and butterflies. Freya is passionate about plants and interested in various ways plants can be wholly appreciated and incorporated into urban areas.


Georgia Garrard
Senior Lecturer & Senior Research Fellow, NESP Threatened Species Recovery Hub
School: Global, Urban and Social Studies

georgia.garrard@rmit.edu.au

Interdisciplinary conservation scientist, Senior Research Fellow, NESP Threatened Species Recovery Hub; Senior Lecturer, School of Global, Urban and Social Studies; ICON Science Research Group, Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University, Melbourne

Georgia is an ecologist and conservation scientist. She is a Senior Research Fellow in RMIT’s ICON Science Research Group and Centre for Urban Research, and Senior Lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, where she teaches Ecological Foundations of Planning. For over a decade, she has conducted research that addresses the critical challenge of conserving and enhancing biodiversity in urban environments. Her protocol for Biodiversity Sensitive Urban Design, codeveloped with Prof Sarah Bekessy, was a finalist in the Banksia Sustainable Cities Award 2016. Georgia has contributed to and led projects on biodiversity sensitive urban design for greenfield and urban renewal development projects, with local government (City of Melbourne), industry (GHD) and philanthropic (The Myer Foundation) organisations. She also co-leads projects for the National Environmental Science Program’s Threatened Species Recovery Hub and the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning that aim reconnect people with nature in a way that fosters care and stewardship for nature. She is a CI on a current ARC Linkage Project (Designing green spaces for biodiversity and human well-being), with project partners the City of Melbourne, ARUP, Greening Australia and Phillip Johnson Landscapes.


Sarah Bekessy
ARC Future Fellow & Professor
School: Centre for Urban Research

sarah.bekessy@rmit.edu.au

Interdisciplinary conservation scientist; ARC Future Fellow; Professor, ICON Science Research Group, Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University.

Professor Sarah Bekessy leads the Interdisciplinary Conservation Science research group at RMIT University. She is interested in the intersection between science and policy in environmental management and is currently involved in an interdisciplinary range of research projects, including an ARC Future Fellowship titled Socio-ecological models for environmental decision making’ and an ARC linkage project titled Designing green spaces for biodiversity and human well-being’. She leads projects in two National Environment Science Program Hubs (Threatened Species Hub and Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub) and is a Chief Investigator in the European Commission-funded project Urban Greenup, which seeks to evaluate nature-based solutions for cities. She co-developed the Biodiversity Sensitive Urban Design protocol that is now being used by numerous developers, governments and non-government organisations to design innovative urban biodiversity strategies.


Zoe Myers
Urban designer and Lecturer
School: Urban Design Research Centre

Zoe is an urban designer and lecturer working at the Australian Urban Design Research Centre (AUDRC), part of the School of Design at the University of Western Australia, where she teaches in the Master of Urban Design. She has led and participated in research projects and design communication for local and State government on topics such as the challenges, perceptions, and spatial issues relating to medium density housing and transit-oriented development, implications of river and sea-level rise for cities, and co-design strategies for urban renewal. Zoe has over 15 years’ experience across the private, public, and tertiary sectors, in project management, policy and planning, and senior strategic communications, including experience in statutory planning, strategic planning policy, and legislative and parliamentary processes. She sits on the City of Vincent Environmental Advisory Group, which has overseen projects such as drain conversion into public park space. Zoe’s current research at AUDRC is focused on how evidence-based urban design can enhance mental health and restoration through connection to nature in our cities, and the remaking of overlooked spaces and hard infrastructure as ecologically and emotionally regenerative places. She is the author of Wildness and Wellbeing: Nature, Neuroscience and Urban Design (Palgrave Macmillan).

Dr Zoe Myers is the team leader for Haptic Pathways, the finalist for the 2019 DCP Design Challenge.

VVet-n-VVild-VVIFI

Holistic Computing Aesthetics Network

VVet-n-VVild-VVIFI aesthetic Research and Development (AR&D) exploring the creative dimensions of internet infrastructure through which artists, technologists and theorists collaborate to address issues of alternative energy, radio transmission, and the future of Wi-Fi technology, as microcontrollers that can be suitably-powered for off-the-grid operation.

VVet-n-VVild-VVIFI explores the innovative capacities and critical implications of computational technology specifically through experiential prototyping and dialogue AR&D to propose alternative net-affinities and rewrite alternatives to avoid any contributing to roadkill of the internet superhighway’. Working towards exhibition series of advanced prototypes for alt-infrastructure networks in 2021 and beyond/​VVet-n-VVild-VVIFI is an exemplar of how wireless technology impacts upon traditional exhibition-based practice, radically intervening into public space through the aesthetic application of networking infrastructure in diverse social settings — intimate dens of subnode Intranets, peer to peer networking, autonomous internet beacons that decentre the passage of information and art in diverse social settings, off-grid solar/​wind powered.

Find out more about VVet-n-VVild-VVIFI here.

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Nancy Mauro-Flude is
Lecturer
School: Digital Design Cluster

RMIT staff profile
nancy.flude@rmit.edu.au

Nancy Mauro-Flude is an artist and theorist. Administer of a home-brewed feminist web server, she leads the Holistic Computing Network Research group and practices experiential pedagogy, in her role as coordinator Emerging Digital/​Media Cultures, Bachelor of Design (Digital Media), College of Design and Social Context @RMIT University. Mauro-Flude’s research contributes to the interdisciplinary space of feminist science and technology studies, computer subculture and performance art. Her artworks radically intervenes into public space by the aesthetic application of networking infrastructure, playfully and critically she experiments with signal transmission in order to draw upon contested knowledges and advance broader understandings emergent technologies as they arise as key actors in our embodied life.

Translating Ambiance

Restorative Sound Design for Urban Soundscapes

The project expects to produce innovations in the area of urban soundscape design by using an interdisciplinary approach that combines biophilic design, ambiance theory and sound art installation practices. Investigating new techniques for the creation of sound art installations, it hopes to advance the effectiveness of urban renewal initiatives. This should provide significant benefits, such as improving the quality of life in urban centres by producing restful and restorative places and identifying pathways for the involvement of creative practitioners in the design and management of the built environment.

This project was awarded an ARC DECRA.

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Jordan Lacey
VC Research Fellow
School: School of Design

Personal website
jordan.lacey@rmit.edu.au

Dr Jordan Lacey is a transdisciplinary creative practice researcher and DECRA Fellow in the School of Design at RMIT University. He is the author of Sonic Rupture: a practice-led approach to urban soundscape design (Bloomsbury 2016), and various articles, which explore the role of sound installations in transforming urban life. Originally a musician and sound-artist, Jordan has become increasingly focused on the urban environment as evolving into sites-of-encounter that might exceed the typical day-to-day functions of city life. He has produced numerous sound art installations, funded by government and industry partners, that seek to influence approaches to urban design. Recently, he has become interested in posthuman critical theory as a means to question the meaning of being human in a changing world, and the ways in which sonic practices might contribute to this conversation.

News and updates

18.05.2018

Being Wiradjuri Together – Winner 2018 Good Design Award, Social Impact

An interactive Wiradjuri-RMIT project is among the winners in the social impact category at the 2018 Good Design Awards. Read more

People

Troy Innocent
School of Design

Dr Troy Innocent is an artist, academic, designer, coder, educator, and VC Senior Research Fellow at RMIT University, where his creative practice research explores the city as platform for play through an inventive blend of live art, game design and public art. Over the past ten years he has explored the lived experience of cities through mixed realities; situating his work in Melbourne, Bristol, Barcelona, Istanbul, Ogaki, Sydney and Hong Kong. As Melbourne Knowledge Fellow, Innocent expanded his urban codemaking’ practice for situating play in cities to develop Playable City Melbourne, a three-year project bringing together an interdisciplinary urban play community. He is currently artistic director of 64 Ways of Being, a playable city-wide platform for augmented reality experiences supported by a Creative State Commission.

Jaz Hee-jeong Choi
Design and Social Context

Dr Jaz Hee-jeong Choi is a Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow at the Digital Ethnography Research Centre at RMIT. Previously, she was a Founding Member and the Director of the QUT Urban Informatics Research Lab, a transdisciplinary research group exploring and designing at the intersection of people, places, and technologies. She also founded the SIGCHI FoodCHI Network. 

She is an advocate for transdisciplinary research, carefully balancing creativity and criticality. Her approach to urban sustainability recognises play’ as the core of transformative interactions in cities as complex techno-social networks. She builds on this to explore how various forms of digital and playful experiences are designed and evolve in different cultural contexts. Her current research explores designing with and for care for liveable and equitable urban futures across three inter-related domains: wellbeing and ageing; impactful research methods, and; co-creative urban transformation. 

She has collaborated with leading international researchers, published in books and journals across various disciplines, and given invited talks at major international conferences including the inaugural Global Social Economy Forum in 2013 and the opening keynote at the 2010 UNESCO Creative Cities Conference.

Zoe Myers
Urban Design Research Centre

Zoe is an urban designer and lecturer working at the Australian Urban Design Research Centre (AUDRC), part of the School of Design at the University of Western Australia, where she teaches in the Master of Urban Design. She has led and participated in research projects and design communication for local and State government on topics such as the challenges, perceptions, and spatial issues relating to medium density housing and transit-oriented development, implications of river and sea-level rise for cities, and co-design strategies for urban renewal. Zoe has over 15 years’ experience across the private, public, and tertiary sectors, in project management, policy and planning, and senior strategic communications, including experience in statutory planning, strategic planning policy, and legislative and parliamentary processes. She sits on the City of Vincent Environmental Advisory Group, which has overseen projects such as drain conversion into public park space. Zoe’s current research at AUDRC is focused on how evidence-based urban design can enhance mental health and restoration through connection to nature in our cities, and the remaking of overlooked spaces and hard infrastructure as ecologically and emotionally regenerative places. She is the author of Wildness and Wellbeing: Nature, Neuroscience and Urban Design (Palgrave Macmillan).

Dr Zoe Myers is the team leader for Haptic Pathways, the finalist for the 2019 DCP Design Challenge.

Projects
Emma Witkowski
Games

Dr Emma Witkowski is the Director for Playable Media and a Lecturer in the School of Media and Communication. As the Program Manager for the Bachelor of Games Design degree, Witkowski teaches theoretical units on Game Cultures and Game Studies.

Witkowski received her PhD in Game Studies in 2012 from the IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark, taking a qualitative exploration of networked high performance play, considered through a lens of sociology and phenomenology, sports and game studies. She has been working in the field of computer game cultures since 2005, the same year she co-founded the Danish state and privately funded initiative Letzplay, a project aimed at increasing young women’s access to ICT’s and computer gaming knowledge.

Her current research looks at various aspects of computer game cultures, including high performance networked teamplay, esports, gender and games and serious leisure practices. She has written and presented on topics such as identity and play, livestreaming and spectatorship, Mega-LANs, running aesthetics, and the phenomenology of high-performance networked teams.

Fleur Watson
Design Hub

Dr Fleur Watson is a curator and editor specialising in architecture and design.

Fleur Watson is the Curator at RMIT Design Hub – a building dedicated to cross-disciplinary design research and experimentation. Fleur has managed and co-curated a diverse range of exhibitions for Design Hub including Las Vegas Studio, Brook Andrew : De Anima, The Future Is Here (in collaboration with London’s Design Museum), 100 Chairs in 100 Days: Martino Gamper and, most recently, Occupied curated with Otherothers. Extending upon her curatorial role, Watson leads the RMIT University design partnership with the National Gallery of Victoria and recently contributed as an invited judge for the NGV’s architecture competition towards the 2016 NGV Summer Architecture Commission. 

In 2013, Watson was an invited architecture and design curator for the National Gallery of Victoria’s Melbourne Now exhibition and co-produced the installation Sampling The City. She also founded Pin-up Architecture & Design Project Space – an independent exhibition space in Collingwood (2011−2014). Watson is a former editor of Monument magazine (2001−2007), the editor of the Edmond & Corrigan monograph Cities of Hope: Remembered/​Rehearsed and, most recently, co-edited an issue of Architectural Design UK (May/​June 2015) with RMIT University’s Innovation Professor of Architecture Leon van Schaik AO. In 2015, she completed a practice-based PhD at RMIT University entitled The Agency of Encounter: Performative curatorial practice for architecture and design.

Freya Thomas
Centre for Urban Research

Botanist, quantitative plant ecologist; Research Fellow, ICON Science, Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University Melbourne. Freya is a plant ecologist working as a Research Fellow at RMIT on an ARC-Linkage project which focuses on designing urban green spaces for human wellbeing and for biodiversity.

Freya is a botanist whose professional work has spanned many Australian ecosystems and she has a thorough knowledge of Australian native flora. Her PhD focused on building and evaluating quantitative predictive models of plant growth. She also has experience working for the State Government on developing and implementing long term vegetation monitoring programs. Her current research at RMIT focuses on evaluating how urban green spaces influence human wellbeing but also how plant choice in cities influences other organisms like birds, bees and butterflies. Freya is passionate about plants and interested in various ways plants can be wholly appreciated and incorporated into urban areas.

Georgia Garrard
Global, Urban and Social Studies

Interdisciplinary conservation scientist, Senior Research Fellow, NESP Threatened Species Recovery Hub; Senior Lecturer, School of Global, Urban and Social Studies; ICON Science Research Group, Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University, Melbourne

Georgia is an ecologist and conservation scientist. She is a Senior Research Fellow in RMIT’s ICON Science Research Group and Centre for Urban Research, and Senior Lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, where she teaches Ecological Foundations of Planning. For over a decade, she has conducted research that addresses the critical challenge of conserving and enhancing biodiversity in urban environments. Her protocol for Biodiversity Sensitive Urban Design, codeveloped with Prof Sarah Bekessy, was a finalist in the Banksia Sustainable Cities Award 2016. Georgia has contributed to and led projects on biodiversity sensitive urban design for greenfield and urban renewal development projects, with local government (City of Melbourne), industry (GHD) and philanthropic (The Myer Foundation) organisations. She also co-leads projects for the National Environmental Science Program’s Threatened Species Recovery Hub and the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning that aim reconnect people with nature in a way that fosters care and stewardship for nature. She is a CI on a current ARC Linkage Project (Designing green spaces for biodiversity and human well-being), with project partners the City of Melbourne, ARUP, Greening Australia and Phillip Johnson Landscapes.

Rebecca Yang
Construction Management

Rebecca Yang has developed a strong and passionate commitment to industry-focused research and teaching. Her research resonates with RMIT’s vision of transforming the built environment to create sustainable and resilient cities, and her current research focuses on solar energy applications in buildings, and construction innovation. She is the leader of Solar Energy Application Group. She is the leader of Solar Energy Application Group and the Australian expert in International Energy Agency PVPS Task 15 BIPV.

Sarah Bekessy
Centre for Urban Research

Interdisciplinary conservation scientist; ARC Future Fellow; Professor, ICON Science Research Group, Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University.

Professor Sarah Bekessy leads the Interdisciplinary Conservation Science research group at RMIT University. She is interested in the intersection between science and policy in environmental management and is currently involved in an interdisciplinary range of research projects, including an ARC Future Fellowship titled Socio-ecological models for environmental decision making’ and an ARC linkage project titled Designing green spaces for biodiversity and human well-being’. She leads projects in two National Environment Science Program Hubs (Threatened Species Hub and Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub) and is a Chief Investigator in the European Commission-funded project Urban Greenup, which seeks to evaluate nature-based solutions for cities. She co-developed the Biodiversity Sensitive Urban Design protocol that is now being used by numerous developers, governments and non-government organisations to design innovative urban biodiversity strategies.