The position of design training in the Urban Policy and Practice stream at RMIT’s School of Social Science and Planning has been strengthened since the current semester, when Dr Jan Scheurer joined the program as the first academic staff member with an urban design background. For a long time, planners and policy makers have been slow to realise the vital contributions of urban design to the production of viable, functional and user-friendly urban environments’, but the last few years have seen the beginning of a real turnaround on this issue in Australia.
It is now indispensable for urban planners to employ a broad multidisciplinary approach to their profession where positive policy outcomes are to be achieved. This needs to be reflected as comprehensively as possible at the level of planning education. At RMIT, planning students are given a first-hand encounter with urban design culture – not necessarily by acquiring advanced creative and visualisation skills, which remains the domain of the Urban Design stream of the program, but by learning, through practical experience and exercises, to see built environments, their opportunities and their problems through the eyes of designers.
Trained as an architect and urban planner in Hamburg (Germany) in the early 1990s, Jan conducted an evaluation study of ecological housing developments in metropolitan Copenhagen (Denmark) before coming to Australia on a PhD scholarship in 1997. During a five-year period at Murdoch University in Perth, Jan continued to investigate sustainability performance in innovative urban neighbourhoods in several European countries and Australia. His PhD thesis revolves around the links between physical design and user behaviour in residential areas, with regard to resource consumption, social interaction, mobility patterns and lifestyle aspirations. It was completed in 2001 and can be downloaded from www.istp.murdoch.edu.au/publications/ projects/jan
Jan's research interests further include the comparison of urban sustainability initiatives in different regional and cultural contexts, paradigms and scenarios of urban change in the post-industrial era, non-motorised and public transport modes in cities and the policy drivers that encourage their usage.
Dr Jan Scheurer has recently joined the School of Social Science and Planning at RMIT University and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also in UDFQ 63: September 2003:
- Rob Cowan visiting Australia
- Next Edition: Culture and the built environment
- Urban Design a must for Kiwi Architecture students
- Who wants an Urban Design education?
- Urban designers – then and now
- A student perspective on outcomes
- MUDD at University of New South Wales
- Urbanism in SEQ
- MUD at Melbourne University
- Urban design at Sydney University
- The art of asking questions
- Urban design laboratory
- Urban Design Forum meets RMIT