The Tropical Design Studio series has driven collaborations between the TUDLab team and local communities all over Far North Queensland.
The team has completed strategic master plan projects in Ingham, Innisfail, Ravenshoe and Malanda. The Malanda master plan is one of their most successful runs of the project so far. The TUDLab’s cooperative approach to design in regional areas garnered the attention of the Minister’s Award jury, and Lisa believes the passionate collaboration involved earned her team the award.
“I think what the Minister’s Award jury saw was a sophisticated conversation about design happening in regional towns and now that conversation is being funded, too,” Lisa says. “It’s an amazing thing because many issues in regional towns defy easy solutions.
“They have aging populations with young people moving away because they’re not engaged in town affairs. Schools struggle because families move away. Dairy deregulation has caused one of Queensland farmers’ main industries to decline. People travel to Townsville or Cairns to shop, so high streets are now deserted. The problems are big, but the populations are small, so it’s tricky to come up with funding to help solve the problems.”
But the TUDLab method provides comprehensive strategic frameworks to make small regional towns vibrant places to work, live and visit. The team’s efforts are already yielding improvements in the liveability, walkability, sustainability and rate of tourism in these regional towns, a key element in earning the Minister’s Award for Urban Design.
The Minister’s Award jury highlighted the critical role of urban design in shaping Queensland and the importance of collaborative relationships that lead to the successful development of the built environment. The jury specifically sought out projects like the TUDLab’s that had three winning qualities: challenging the status quo, demonstrating leadership and design excellence, and leaving lasting, sustainable legacies for the broader community.
“The master plans project is so exciting because it makes a real impact in these communities,” Lisa says. “We’ve even had individuals from the towns where we’ve worked see the power of this kind of thinking and process and enrol in JCU Planning because they want to make that kind of a difference. Bringing urbanism and design strategy into these regional towns is a big step towards the goal of liveable, sustainable legacies in Far North Queensland.”
The combined recipients of the Minister’s Award included TUDLab plus CA Architects, LA3 Landscape Architecture and TPG Architects with Tablelands Regional Council, Cassowary Coast Regional Council and Hinchinbrook Shire Council.