Graduate Architect, Urban Designer, PLACE Laboratory, Perth, WA. Completed Master of Architecture. 2017

Why did you decide to study urban design at AUDRC?

I traveled to Europe in 2014 where my curiosity towards cities grew. I was fascinated at how the historic layers and systems that existed in those cities cultivated human habitation, interaction and connection. The way people lived their lives and the kinds of experiences people could have seemed to be part of a larger network of design considerations, rather than individual components. I enrolled in three of AUDRC’s urban design elective units as part of my Master of Architecture course to learn in a multi-disciplinary environment and to expand my knowledge of how design could play a role in wider urban scenarios, such as shaping neighbourhoods and public spaces.

What is your professional background?

I have been working at a local landscape architecture practice, PLACE Laboratory for over 2 years and have completed a master’s degree in architecture.

How has studying urban design at AUDRC enriched your practice?

All of the units I chose were theoretical, which was great for learning about some of the principles that underpin urban design. Studying at AUDRC exposed me to other disciplines and I had the opportunity to study alongside other landscape architects, which was a great introduction for when I joined PLACE Lab. We do a lot of research and design work at PLACE Lab and having done research in urban design it is a great help when designing neighbourhoods, streets and plazas.

What inspires you? Professionally and/or personally?

I think my inspirations both professionally and personally are intertwined. I find myself inspired by people, in particular people who take a stand and aren’t afraid to try something new and create something they believe in. I admire artists, musicians, chefs…and even vegans! I am also deeply inspired by historic places. They are always captivating because the people and their societies have developed over long periods of time. Traditional Chinese architecture such as the Hutong in Beijing and traditional Chinese gardens in Suzhou are incredible because they were designed to be harmonious with nature and people.

Can you talk about a specific project or projects of interest that you worked on?

I was part of the team at PLACE Laboratory chosen to design Connect South Mends Street in South Perth. We designed the new plaza to be a regional and local gateway to Mends Street, connecting the jetty to Perth Zoo. Recently, our giant numbat has been installed and soon a giant frilled neck lizard will join! The animals are coming to South Perth!

Last year I had a wonderful opportunity to travel to Berlin for three months and research the collaborative design process in a housing cooperative called Spreefeld. I was interested in how the architects and 82 residents worked together to design the public realm spaces in Spreefeld. These are some key findings and learnings from her research:

  • the collective ownership was a key driver for many of the social outcomes

  • deciding who could/should engage in participatory and collaborative decisions were important in making the design process effective

  • allowing room for experimentation and informal decision-making gives people more choices and the opportunity to take ownership of spaces

  • the collaborative design process is inclusive and fostered a sense of empathy amongst participants

Read the full report of Melissa’s findings HERE and follow her on TWITTER to receive updates.

From all of your professional and academic practice what is your definition of Urban Design?

I think urban design is about tackling some of the critical issues that affect large urban areas in cities through design. These could be issues such as population growth, climate change, or technological advancement such as driverless cars and how we find solutions for our neighbourhoods, housing, streets and public spaces.


ABOVE: Pages from My home is wider than my walls: mapping the decisions made in the mixed-use housing cooperative Spreefeld to find how the public realm outcomes are achieved. Australian-German Association and Goethe Institut Fellowship Report 2019.


ABOVE: Photographs taken by Mellissa. A field study investigating how people use and occupy public space in China. BELOW: Traditional Chinese gardens in Suzhou designed to be harmonious with nature and people. LEFT: Installation of the giant numbat designed by PLACE Laboratory a regional and local gateway to Mends Street, connecting the jetty to Perth Zoo, 2019.


Join other postgraduate professionals for an exciting and rewarding opportunity to study in the dynamic and contemporary field of Urban Design. AUDRC offers a Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, and Masters in Urban Design, with units often delivered after-hours to accommodate full time work and other commitments.

To learn more about the program CLICK HERE