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    Public Lecture: Designing With People

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    Event description

    Date: Wed 10 April 2024 

    Time: 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm AEDT

    Location: Michael Spence Building Function Room 501

    After decades of top-down urban planning and placemaking, the movement to ensure that communities have a say in shaping the places where they live has greatly expanded when and how people are asked to weigh in on these important decisions. But both systemic and quotidian barriers—from access to clear information, to finding the time to participate, to histories of exclusion and distrust—present real challenges to authentic community engagement. So, what does it look like to meaningfully engage real people—particularly those whose voices have not been heard—in shaping the places where they live? 

    Christine Gaspar, a community-engaged design practitioner with 15+ years of experience designing with communities in the U.S. shares how she has addressed some of those barriers in her own work. She draws lessons from both her architecture and urban planning work with low-wealth communities recovering from Hurricane Katrina in the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and her work at the Center for Urban Pedagogy, creating accessible visually-based materials with and for marginalized communities to help them access rights and participate in civic decision-making.


    Speaker Bio

    Christine Gaspar is a designer and planner with over fifteen years of experience collaborating with marginalized communities to shape the places where they live. From 2009-2022, she was the Executive Director of the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), a New York-based nonprofit that co-creates educational materials and tools that help people access public services, legal rights, and political power. Prior to that, she was Assistant Director of the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio in Biloxi, Mississippi, where she provided architectural design and community planning services to low-wealth communities of color recovering from Hurricane Katrina. Her work has been featured in contexts such as the Cooper-Hewitt Museum's National Design Triennial, PS-1, and the Venice Biennale, and recognized with a Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for Institutional Achievement, the Curry Stone Design Prize, and the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. 

    Christine has taught courses on design, civic engagement, and community planning at the School for Visual Arts, Parsons the New School for Design, the Pratt Institute, Mississippi State University, and Boston Architectural College and has lectured about community-engaged design across the globe. She is a founding member and Co-Chair of the Board of Design Futures Forum. She holds Masters in Architecture and in Urban Planning from MIT, and a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from Brown University. Her work is driven by a belief that design can be a powerful tool, particularly when it’s used to support community-led visions for change.

    Panelists Bio

    Paulo Macchia

    As the Director of Design Governance at Government Architect NSW Paulo Macchia focuses on built environment policy initiatives and delivery systems. He is a registered architect, holds a Masters of Sustainable Built Environment and is a Fellow of the Australia Institute of Architects. 

    Recently Paulo was the director responsible for the draft NSW Design and Place State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP), which proposed to overhaul how design is considered in the planning system. The proposal led to the creation of the Sustainable Buildings SEPP, which for the first time in Australia, sets standards for operational and embodied emissions in commercial buildings.

    Prior to that in 2018, Paulo established the Homes NSW Centre for Design which works to improve the design quality of social housing in NSW. He recently established Government Architect NSW’s partnership with the NSW Reconstruction Authority to assist with the delivery of new housing in the flood-affected communities of the Northern Rivers and he is currently the director responsible for the NSW Housing Pattern Book.


    Professor Kate Sweetapple

    Kate Sweetapple is a Professor in the School of Design at UTS. Her area of research is visualisation and its capacity to make sense of complex systems and create meaningful communications. Through design-led research, she demonstrates how visualisation reveals patterns and relationships that are otherwise hard to see. This process engages diverse communities and enables new insights. Her research is increasingly focused on the role of design in shaping systems, services, and social practices in the contemporary care space, including health, disability, and aging. 

    Kate has upcoming publications on Design for Social InnovationCare Labour and Digital Interfaces, and in the Routledge Companion to Design Research. Her experimental cartographic series, Maps of Sydney(Avian, Fish and Celestial surnames), has been acquired by the National Library of Australia, the National Gallery of Australia, and the Australian National Maritime Museum.

    Dr Greta Werner

    Dr Greta Weston Werner is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Henry Halloran Research Trust at The University of Sydney. She is interested in population change, infrastructure provision and urban development, working on research projects funded by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute. Her research examines the social and economic processes that inform urban infrastructure development, with a focus on housing policy and civic solidarity.



    This talk is hosted by the Living Lab Northern Rivers in partnership with the Henry Halloran Research Trust

    Christine Gaspar is visiting Australia at the invitation of Living Lab Northern Rivers and the Halloran Trust. While in Australia Christine will also spend time in the Northern Rivers where she will share her work with organisations that are supporting resident involvement in recovery and adaptation in response to the 2022 floods. Christine is also advising LLNR and the NSW Reconstruction Authority on Disaster Adaptation Planning work in the Northern Rivers.

    Disclaimer: We may take photographs of the speakers and the audience at this event for promotional purposes. Please let us know if you wish not to be photographed. 


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