Urban Design and Planning

Sustainable Tropical Urban Planning and Design

We are living in an age of technological advancement, heightened social mobility and the advent of the knowledge economy, in a world also affected by climate change, increasing spatial shortage and the threat of cultural depletion through globalisation. Never has there been such an important time to holistically address these issues through the design of more sustainable urban habitats, and in particular within the tropical belt – a geographical zone which is experiencing rapid socio–economic and environmental change.

Given such a context, the CITBA seeks to engage researchers and practitioners in various aspects of Sustainable Urban Planning and Design in the tropical belt to find solutions to these pertinent issues through an interdisciplinary design approach that blends latest industry ‘best practice’ with urban theory, underpinned by a rigorous understanding of the Green agenda, use of tropical passive design techniques and knowledge of green technologies.

This research cluster will focus on the following topics:

  • Designing cities, towns and communities to cope with climate change
  • Population growth and change and rapid urbanisation
  • Planning to include cultural diversity
  • Social and planning policy development
  • Urban and regional planning

For further information on the Sustainable Tropical Urban Planning and Design research being conducted by CITBA please contact Dr. Simona Azzali at simona.azzali@jcu.edu.au

2020 Update



Expected publication, Q4 2020

Constrained environments are unique territories characterised by challenging circumstances, limited land and natural resources. They can be places with a small municipal boundary or cities in which parts around them may be consumed by ocean, bay or mountains. Those places face hard physical boundaries like coastlines and mountains, and, often, policy decisions that may limit capacity for business expansion and community survival. The book intends to address ways in which businesses and communities adapt to constrained environments. The literature on tropical urbanism has been growing over the years but have focused mainly on climate and environmental related conditions. However, little attention has been paid to investigate constrained environments in tropical and sub-tropical regions and the mutual relationship between urban planning, communities, and businesses. This book aims to fill this gap by consolidating existing lenses of urbanism and creating new knowledge and practices that identify the changes in the environment and business landscapes with differing responses from communities by tracing their changes, interrelations, and evolution over the years.

Attendees Audience27 September 2019

The 1st Sustainable Tropical Urbanism Symposium: Tropical Cities in a Warming World brought together more than 70 academic researchers, practicing planners and architects, local government officers, and students in urban planning and design from Singapore, Australia, and the ASEAN region. Attendees discussed various issues facing the contemporary tropical city with a focus on how tropical cities respond to climate in an era of climate change; creation/curation of tropical space and place; and methods for tropical urban research. Best contributions have been selected and will be published in a special edition of JCU's journal eTropic expected to be published in September 2020. The second edition of the symposium, Sustainable Tropical Urbanism: Building Tropical Cities of the Future, is scheduled for October 2021. Themes to be discussed will include building tropical resilience; creation/curation of tropical space and place; sustainable tourism planning; heritage and conservation of tropical spaces and landscapes; methods for tropical urban research and professional projects. Best contributions will be published in a special edition of the open-access journal Sustainability.

Caroline Wong, Simona Azzali, Taha Chaiechi

This pilot study, a collaboration between CITBA Australia and Singapore, seeks to evaluate the suitability of design practices to meet the needs of an ageing population retirement community project. Specifically, the research aims to develop a qualitative and quantitative index termed the Silver Population Wellbeing Index (SPWI) to assess the wellbeing of seniors vis-à-vis the performance of residential age-friendly buildings. It is hoped the findings will contribute to public housing projects in Southeast Asia and tropical Australia. In a fast ageing world, this research will help in building capacity and design thinking by engaging with industry and bridging academic knowledge and real-world planning and design endeavours.

For an update on the project, visit this page.