LEIGH WOOLLEYThe Gallaugher Bequest Churchill Fellowship to study design principles of urban settings with particular reference to the Hobart region - New Zealand, Canada, USA, U.K., Norway.
Architect + Urban Design Consultant
Adjunct Professor of Architecture and Design (UTAS)
Leigh is the principal of Leigh Woolley Architect and Urban Design Consultant and provides design and consultancy services to private clients and all levels of government, within architecture and associated design disciplines, particularly urban design. He established his practice in 1987, having previously worked in the public and private sectors in architecture and urban design in Tasmania, SE Asia and the UK. He also worked for a time with the Architectural Press in London as an architectural journalist.
He is the recipient of numerous professional design awards across these disciplines. His architecture has been published nationally and internationally and has been described as: ‘a story of a triumph of a meticulous practice that has worked from the Tasmanian condition’. A recent citation described him as ‘without question the leading expert in urban design in the state of Tasmania’. He practices from Hobart.
Tasmania’s future will be sustained in large part through our ability to develop our settlements in response to the character and sense of the setting. Appropriate design principles and policies are needed to address development within our ‘dwelling regions’, to underpin local and regional identity, tourism and a sense of public well-being. The unique character of individual urban settings, although popularly appreciated, are seldom interpreted in the way cities are planned and designed. The interplay between an enduring landscape, and a city’s evolving urban form, should provide the precondition to its future urban scale and form.
Historically Tasmanian urban growth has however been ill-coordinated, without guiding intentions influencing urban design across development scales, from region to neighbourhood. By considering a number of diverse (port) cities where topography is pronounced, (and researching how planning and urban design has informed built outcomes in each location), case studies appropriate to Tasmanian settlement can be considered.
The intention is to identify how these particular environmental settings underpin and inform settlement growth, and can be used to guide a vision for future urban form.
The landscape setting and built form response within each city is to be analyzed. Interviews will be held with key personnel in public planning and design agencies, leading academics and private practitioners in architecture and urban design. Base topographic data is to be sourced for each city and used in support of a photographic, written and drawn analysis of key spatial relationships. From the interviews, the principal strategic urban design policies will be identified and analyzed. Comparison between individual cities will be made, and implications for Tasmanian settlements determined.
FELLOWSHIP CONCLUSIONS & OUTCOMES
Those cities that deal with their regional settings through comprehensive planning and urban development goals, are able to manage their urban form in an integrated way. They embrace their ‘city image’ as a three dimensional idea, supported by strong municipal planning underpinned by urban design policy.
These cities have co- ordinated their efforts across design scales developing urban design frameworks to co-ordinate public and private investment. The implications of defining an urban growth perimeter for example, is necessarily to concentrate the centre, thus reducing the city’s ecological footprint.
Implications for Tasmanian cities, particularly Hobart
Strengthen our ‘natural’ advantage – especially from within our cities
Complacency towards our natural assets (setting / scale/ history/ accessibility) will (potentially) be our undoing unless co-ordinated through settlement policy.
Recognise that good design (across scales) adds value
Especially where the city remains accessible, pedestrian friendly and socially diverse.
Capitalise on (our) uniqueness – as a quieter, greener more reflective place.
The ‘edge’ condition has important urban advantages – we can appreciate the margins of settlement, we can also ‘see’ where we have been.
Enhance identity through development
Keeping that which is irreplaceable is as much a measure of human achievement as building the new. Identify those qualities and spatial characteristics inherent to urban culture in this place.
Ensure the city (of Hobart) remains a unique place rather than a ubiquitous one.
Without a strong design framework guiding development of the city and its region, this character, which is essential to our identity and well being, is at risk.
Since 2000 Leigh has continued to consolidate the findings of his Fellowship through professional practice and research. In turn this has assisted a number of urban policy outcomes underpinned by urban design consultancies, conference papers, expert evidence, articles and his practice analysis. He continues to contribute to and organize public and professional seminars and conferences on the place of settlement and design in Tasmania.
Although consulting beyond Tasmania, his focus remains the Hobart dwelling region, where he continues to pursue his findings and research through a range of architectural commissions and urban design consultancies. Those strongly related to his fellowship include: City of Hobart Urban Design Principles Project (parts 1 + 2), Experiencing Sullivans Cove – morphology, views and cultural significance, Planning Hobart’s Natural Urban Envelope, Kangaroo Bay Urban Design study, Urban Design Principles: UTAS urban sites, Hobart Civic Square Masterplan.
He has also been a representative on a number of professional review panels including the Built Environment Committee of the University of Tasmania (2004 – 2015) and the Sullivans Cove Design Panel (2006 – 2012). Currently he is the Urban Design Advisor to the Macquarie Point Development Authority (since 2014). He has appeared as an expert witness before VCAT (Victoria) and RMPAT (Tasmania) planning courts of appeal, and has been a panel member on RPDC Projects of State Significance assessments. Since 2008 he has been an Adjunct Professor of Architecture and Design (UTAS)
He was an invited participant from 2001 in a national Masters of Architecture program at RMIT leading to an exhibition and publication of his work in 2004: ‘Articulating the Edge: Spatial Prospecting to Build Topography.’
In 2002 he was an invited speaker at the UIA 2002 XXI World Congress of Architecture in Berlin. His paper: ‘Negotiating margins, Reclaiming Peripheries: The ‘wilderness’ imperative in Architecture and Urban Design’ has since been published by Birkhauser.
In 2002 the national ward winning publication: ‘Architecture from the Edge – the twentieth century in Tasmania’ with Churchill Fellow Barry McNeill, was published.
Following the presentation of a paper at the ICOMOS National Conference: ‘Challenge and Change in Ports and their cities’. (November 2006) his paper ‘Harbouring Design – Reclaiming margins in port cities’ was published in Historic Environment Vol. 22 No. 2 July 2009
His paper ‘Sheltering Human Presence – revealing place through urban design practice’, was a keynote address at an International Urban Design Conference: ‘Designing Place’. University of Nottingham, UK in April 2012.
His article: ‘Placing Tasmania: natural ground for urban design’ was published in the national award winning compendium on urban design: ‘Urban Voices’ Celebrating urban design in Australia, 2013
In 2012 he was included in the Australian Encyclopaedia of Architecture (Cambridge University Press). He has been the recipient of more than 20 professional awards in architecture, planning and urban design.
The theme of his Churchill Fellowship continues to underpin his contribution to urban design policy and research in Tasmania. (September 3 2015)