Street Life Studies 2016


This course puts forward the premise that the vitality of public spaces hinges on their ability to facilitate a diversity of often unexpected usages, movements and interactions, by a broad spectrum of people, over varying time periods. It suggests that the street, as the fundamental public space of the city, is where this activity can and should occur.
Within this framework, the course proposes that designers take a more active role in understanding, first hand, the complexities of day to day dynamics in urban environments before proposing design ‘solutions’. This may be a means of developing methods which respond directly to urban needs as a means of better supporting street life activity.
The course will analyse two very different urban environments: a street in Sydney and one in Phnom Penh. In Sydney, we will look at the public street space in a sub-urban area that is going under major infrastructural change and lacking in urban life. We will try to understand the peculiarities of the area and envision small scale interventions that aim to enhance its vitality.
Not without its challenges, Phnom Penh streets are clear examples of diverse urban dwellers playing out much of their lives in the public domain which is appropriated to meet varying needs and generally ‘unplanned’ in terms of those involved in the design and legislation of the built environment. Here we will try to understand how we can better support and maintain the vibrancy which exists but is increasingly pervaded by developmental by-products such as rising vehicular use and urban spaces with poor environmental sensitivity.
In this course, students will undertake detailed observational exercises in each location, employing a variety of methodologies to investigate and graphically communicate planned and unplanned tactics and behavioural patterns, as they contribute to a sense of place.
A second phase, focused on group discussion, will try to understand the needs that lead to the current shape of the observed environment.
As a third step students will propose a small scale intervention: how can precedents from Phnom Penh be intelligently translated to inform small scale urban design interventions in the Sydney street site and vice versa?
Students will be asked to develop artefact or system, with the intent of envisioning human-focused design interventions that contribute to creating vital public street space.

Download course booklet (PDF 16Mb)




Sydney: Anzac Parade

Phnom Penh: street 19


Exercise 1: planned elements

In this exercise we will be looking at the planned elements of the streetscape. By planned elements we refer to all buildings, urban furniture, signage and the likes that was originally designed and implemented, usually in a top down manner by the owner or planning authorities.

Exercise 2 : unplanned elements

Unplanned elements refers to modifications which have been made the urban environment over time, usually by end users in a bottom up manner. This might be fixed items such as a change in paint colour or window cover or dynamic items such as furniture which is brought out on to the footpath each morning.

Exercise 3 : users and actions

Users and actions refers to the people who use and appropriate the environment and the actions they take in terms of movement, stasis, activity.

Exercise 4: urban tactics

Based on street observations, students are asked to develop a small scale design idea whose aim is to better support street vitality. Students identify a need as a means of creating a brief, and then respond to this with quick design interventions. Briefs were broad ranging from way finding, to buffering vehicular traffic, and seating to encourage longer stays.


Phnom Penh:



Iman Ale Davodi,Zarah Baitz, Jaslyn Brown,Madeleine Brown,Eoin Campbell, Emily Capel, Kiara Carroll, Carolina Coriani, Kassandra Cottee, Diana    Espiritu,Sarah Fabian, Hoi Man Fung, Laura Morabito, Annalie Reeves, Kate    Riley, Kristianne Sadio, Anna Sibal, Brooke Streater,Aya Takla, Lulu Talbot-Le Scraigne, Anna Tran.

Giacomo Butte:: course coordinator
Richard Briggs: course tutor
Lisa Zamberlan: course tutor
Bruce Edward Watson: Director Interior Architecture

Pov Leap,Heng Muyleng, Pov Chivorn, Cheang Chonghour, Vuthy Reach, Ly Puthirak, Chuon Visal, Lun Nora, Ou Oudompanhavuth, Sin Sovanrattanak, Srey Sokuncharia, Chum Socheata, Ier Kimhiek, Va Sonita, Lorn Seilboth, Lim Keapor, Kea Sunrangsey, Kuch Chanvichet, Hout Bunkung, Tep Sothy, Chhen Sovat

Professor Kong Kosal: Dean of Faculty
Karno Chay: Vice Dean of Faculty
Phal Piseth: logistical assistance
Hong Leakhena: logistical assistance
Paul Robinson: logistical assistance

Pen Sereypagna
SaSa Art Projects
Khmer Architecture Tours