Friday, November 26, 2010

'Monica puts wheels in motion'

The article writes:

Noosa university graduate Monica Romanyk is not setting out for a new career in Germany to reinvent the wheel, just the way it is used to get around.

And for this 24-year-old regional and urban planner, who has just gained her degree from the University of the Sunshine Coast, her lateral thinking will focus on non-motorized eco-mobility.

Monica has gained a six month internship with ICLEI a local government organization committed to sustainability, and flew out yesterday for Bonn.

The international student from Canada, who decided to study at USC after holidaying in Noosa five years ago, said she would be using the Sunshine Coast as a comparison of her overseas research and would be keen to come back and sort out some sustainable cycling options locally.

That is if she is not head hunted in Germany.

"The Sunshine Coast was a really interesting place to study regional planning because of its growth." she said. "I'm excited about working in the field... it has so much potential."

"We have to work with communities and not forget the social implications of planning." Monica persued her interest in social planning through a minor in sociology. "As an intern with ICLEI, I will help plan the first EcoMobility World Congress in Korea in October 2011. This will involve researching successful local government active transport initiatives worldwide, such as bicycle lending."

Monica's studies were enhanced by a recent visit to Wroclaw, Poland as a part of a program with UN Habitat, the United Nations agency for human settlements. "I applied to the European Urban Summer School and was selected to join 50 young professionals and academics from a range of countries to discuss sustainable urban planning with UN Habitat."

"We discussed all aspects of sustainability- social, economic, environmental- in relation to the past and present ways of planning."

The last few months have been some of the busiest for me. I recently wrote my final university exams and have completed my studies at the University of the Sunshine Coast. I can now call myself a regional and urban planner!

It was my intention to make my way to Europe to find work in my field and to gain more of an international perspective. Well it has all happened very quickly! I am writing from Bonn, Germany where I arrived this morning to start a new chapter. As you can see in the article above I will be here to work with ICLEI for six months as an intern in EcoMobility.

I look foward to starting my professional career! Although it was hard to say goodbye to Australia. I will miss it.. I will miss the climate. It was a great experience, I enjoyed my studies and the Sunshine Coast was an ideal place to live while I was a student.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Photo- Trees are life

I've been inspired by this photo of Shinji Turner-Yamamoto's Hanging Garden Sculpture. She has featured the juxtaposition of life and death in the Holy Cross Church of Cincinnati.

Plant a tree! Support life, sustainablity, reduction of the urban heat island, character of place, natural beauty, reduction of air pollution... and so much more, by greening our urban grey.

read more about the installation project here.


Photo thanks to inhabitat

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Inspiration- Peter Cook

Peter Cook is a well known British architect as well as a teacher and writer. He was one of the founding members of Archigram, described by the ABC as "one of the most revolutionary but strangest architectural collectives the world has ever seen.". He has always been well known for his bizarre concepts and out of this world ideas which he focused on for many years. It has been more recently, in the latter part of his career that he has actually built such space aged designs. The Kundsthaus Graz, or Graz Art Museum being an example. His newest addition will be the London Olympic Stadium, to be complete for 2012.

Graz Art Museum, Austria

Where I find inspiration in his work and his thinking is in the way he understands the city as a multi layered complex collection of spaces. He believes there is a need to create cityscapes that comprise of these 'layers', this 'non-solid architecture'; incidence, nooks, corners and overlays with plenty of relative space in between.
This is what I believe planning has evolved far from, to the modern urbanism of organization, seperation and distancing of activities and social groups. Planners need to think about what a city could be, and how the people who live in it might respond, and with this thinking more functional, sustainable cities can emerge.
Brisbane was lucky enough to host Peter Cook last week. He was there to present the Neilson Design Lecture at the State Library of Queensland as part of Design Week.
"There are lots of clever people at universities and they can make very smart ideas, but they don't come up with anything." -Peter Cook
...lets work on this..

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


EcoMobility is an increasingly important urban challenge. Above is a photo of Milan's fairly recent bicycle-sharing system 'BikeMi'. It is a similar concept to the 'Velib' system in Paris and Montreal's brand new 'BIXI' public bike system. These innovative programs are meant to support a growing bicycle culture as well as a sustainable and healthy way to get around.
The Global Alliance for EcoMobility has an educational and inspiring website where you can keep up to date with cities promoting EcoMobiliy and self- propelling modes of transportation, encouraging less dependency on motorized vehicles.
Support sustainable mobility and ride a bike!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Australian Urban Design & Heritage

Having recently had the opportunity to further study the European context of urban planning and heritage it brought me back to think about Australia, my current home. Australia is of course much younger and less developed than the highly historic European cities I focused on however heritage is something that is present in Australian society as well.
Europe has a great history and therefore has an incredible amount of heritage to consider when planning. A vast part of the built environment in major European cities, if not destroyed in the war, has a history of hundreds of years. Different periods in history have left their mark, their architectural style, their industrial space, which planners are faced to consider and incorporate in future planning and development.

Australia on the other hand, due to its youth, must not forget or overlook its history and its heritage. Whether it be abandoned industrial land, old ports, landscape or architecure, it should be considered and used to enhance the identity of space to create vibrant and meaningful cultural places.

An example of successful rehabilitation of heritage in Sydney's Paddington suburb is the Paddington Resevoir Development. The original Paddington Resevoir was built between 1866 and 1878 and was a key element in Sydney's early water supply. Through history it evolved into a garage and workshop for the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board in 1899, later a service station, and in 1934 it was aquired by the Paddington Municipal Council and leased as a commercial garage. By 1991 the area was unused and closed off to the public due to the quality and state of the old building.

The City of Sydney has successfully restored an area of industrial heritage by rehabilitating the Paddington Reservoir Gardens and creating new space and cultural facility. The skeleton structure of the site has been preserved and incorporated in the design providing character of the precincts heritage. The City of Sydney was presented with the 'Australian Award for Urban Design' in 2009 for demonstrating excellence and innovation in the built environment.

Good urban design can play a critical role in the evolution of our ever transforming cities, and heritage is a criteria that should be consistently considered and incorporated in urban planning to contribute to enhancing a cultural identity and creating meaningful public spaces.
Photos of Paddington Reservoir:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

EUSS experience

I have recently returned from what has been an incredible learning experience. Ten days were spent with approximately 50 other young professionals and academics from across Europe to discuss sustainable urban planning in the beautiful city of Wroclaw, Poland.

It started with a very friendly welcome by the head of EUSS, Izabella Mironowicz and presentation by UN Habitat's Krzysztof Mularczyk who shared the organization's aims of bringing young people in the industry together to make it more inclusive and "less jargonistic". The upcoming UN 2010/2011 State of Urban Cities report was also presented which focuses on bridging the urban divide and the outcomes that are expected in the areas of city monitoring, political analysis, urban economy, gender mainstreaming, and partners and youth (thats us!).

Further we were presented with our schedule for the next 10 days which was proven to be jam packed and intense, none the less rewarding and enjoyable! Working in groups, mine including sociologists, engineers, architects and planners from Portugal, Italy, Turkey, Israel, and Poland we were given 3 cases to analyse, research, discuss and come up with solutions for the transformation or rehabilitation of space and successful outcomes. Before each case was started a site tour was organized to visit and experience the challenges we would work to overcome.

All the cases presented to us were unique in the challenges that were presented and the types of solutions that were needed to be initiated therefore final proposed strategies incorporated architecture, urban design principles, landscape architecture, policy, as well as social initiatives. The broad experience and background in our group facilitated very interesting debates, ideas and an incomparable learning experience. Here is a brief summary of the cases we worked on, with Wroclaw, our host city always the focus.

1. Sepolno

A neighbourhood east of the city centre, built starting in 1919 and based on Ebenezer Howard's Garden City Model was presented to us with its challenges. The major challenges included parking, as more residents have more than one car per household and the neighbourhood was not originally designed with so many cars in mind, the issue of the neighbourhood becoming quite trendy and popular with new residents wanting to alter what is heritage listed architecture, legability and connection to surrounding communities including pedestrian routes and public transportation, as well as public space vs. private allotments used for keeping urban gardens.

2. Looking at the city in layers- how do we see, perceive and describe the city?

Here we were asked to understand Wroclaw as a whole, as a city of 650, 000 inhabitants, 140, 000 thousand being students, with a complex history of settlement and such environmental influences as 5 active rivers flowing through the entire city. Various areas that were debated on and decided on to be most significant in terms of strengths or weaknesses of the region were sprawl, unorganized governance and issues of the lack of power, the tradition of allotments, industrial areas/heritage, academic/university importance, water, and development strategies to name a few.

3. Transportation: Downtown Southern Route

Finally we were presented a transportation infrastructure challenge. The city is currently proposing a new downtown southern route. Wroclaw's main transport routes are designed in a radial structure and the new proposal is recommended to relieve traffic congestion south of the centre and old town of the city. The main objective was to create a successful urban public space while also designing and incorporating a new transportation link in the form of a street, road or avenue. Obstacles to be overcome or considered in this case included the multiple and dense residential neighbourhood areas the proposed route would link through, inclusion of public transport (trams), pedestrian and bicycle routes, the foreseen transportation patterns/trends for the next 20-50 years and opportunity for transformation, inclusiveness of public values and needs, creation of new value, organization of connections and crossings, and the potential for new development.

As the programme was intensive and concentrated, for each case we would present initial ideas, design concepts, challenges and background information open to critique and further final presentations of solutions, proposals and expected outcomes then open for debate.

A publication of all cases and recommended solutions and strategies to the above mentioned cases is currently in production and I look forward to sharing it with you.

Throughout the programme we were also given lectures by experienced professionals and academics from across europe coming anywhere from London, Ireland, the Netherlands, to Spain, Italy and Serbia. These were aimed to inspire us and provide successful studies, innovations and practices that would help us with our problem solving and strategizing. Many presented successful case studies or theories, most including a connection to heritage and how it can be positively incorporated in our ever growing and transforming urban environments. They included topics on participatory practices, public private partnership, effective policy strategies, urban regeneration, brownfields & heritage, the role of planners, heritage vs. regeneration, the importance of history and heritage, supporting investment and renewal of urban areas, new form of the city, spatial strategies, green building design, use of green space, public space, quality of life, and the fascinating list goes on! Case studies presented were from major cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Dublin, Athens, and European countries including Albania, France, Romania, Poland, Serbia to list a few. All were inspiring presentations that gave me great insight into the possibility of being a part of creating positive social, economic and environmental urban planning outcomes in my future career.

Thank you to UN Habitat, ISOCARP, EURA and the beautiful Faculty of Architecture (pictured below), University of Technology Wroclaw! See you at EUSS Spain 2011!


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Long time..

Its been a long time since my last update. I appologize. I have been frantically (but passionately) studying! Working hard so that I could take some time away for an experience that I believe will be an invaluable one.

I was recently accepted to take part in EUSS to discuss sustainable urban planning with UN Habitat in partnership with AESOP (Association of European Schools of Planning), EURA (European Urban Research Association), ISOCARP (International Society of City and Regional Planners) and Wroclaw University of Technology. It will be hosted in Wroclaw, Poland the fourth largest city in Poland that will serve as our case study. We will be discussing all aspects of sustainability, social, economic and environmental in relation to the past and the present ways of planning. Topics such as urban growth, culture and quality of life, public spaces policy, heritage and its place in planning, planning/designing urban transformation, and urban economics (to name a few) will be discussed during the 10 day Programme.

Moreover what is exciting are the issues we will be presented with by the City of Wroclaw to then deliver and present innovative ideas and possible solutions for sustainable urban outcomes.

I look forward to visiting Poland and making the most of this educational experience, and sharing it here in the near future.

Here are some photos of beautiful Wroclaw! I cant wait to discover the city..