City Futures Research Centre UNSW Built Environment

Directors Update, Prof Chris Pettit - March 2021

Directors Update – March 2021

 2021 is well and truly underway and the team at City Futures has been busy on a number of fronts. There has been a swag of new grants from AHURI and ARC as outlined in this newsletter. There has also been significant media attention to research findings from a number of projects. I refer to the tremendously valuable ACOSS report produced by Prof Hal Pawson, Dr Chris MartinDr Alistair Sisson, and Dr Sian Thompson City Futures, Dr Suzanne Fitzpatrick Heriot-Watt University Scotland, and Dr Alex Marsh University of Bristol, UK  – “COVID-19 Rental Housing and Homelessness Impacts”. The findings from this report includes policy direction for building back after the crisis. The report has been the subject of many media discussions you may wish to peruse later in the newsletter. 
 
City Futures has also been refreshing its website, making those projects which contribute in some shape or form towards meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) more visible. Never has it been more important for our collective energies to be focused on the sustainability of our cities and planet. With the rapid urbanisation of many cities around the world there is a crucial role our politicians, city leaders and communities need to play in reshaping our built environment to be more sustainable, productive, equitable and resilient.
 
In the context of resilience we are living in extremely dynamic times. For those of us residing in Sydney we have just emerged from a 1 in 100 year flood event where Sydney received over 300mm of rain. The amount of rain fall was staggering, resulting in the Warragamba Dam discharging 500 gigalitres, equivalent to the volume of the Sydney Harbour. Yet it was only around 15 months ago NSW was battling drought and bushfires. To round off this torrent of events we are still dealing with social and economic trauma and devastation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
So what is City Futures doing to in this time of turmoil? I am proud to say quite a lot. In the context of COVID-19 response there is research in understanding the impact on rental housing and homelessness, as outlined above, and also the work in creating the COVID-19 Australian Property Market Dashboard as developed by City Futures Dr Bala Soundararaj. The Dashboard provides a current snapshot of how the property market is performing before and during COVID-19. I would also like to highlight the work of one of our students Ian Tilley. As part of his Research Masters Ian has created the READI app, Australia first, National, all hazards App https://readiapp.com.au/.
 
Finally, to commence 2021 City has also launched in fortnightly seminar series, Fridays 4-5pm which will be initially run in dual face to face and online modes. The next Seminar is to be held on the 16th of April and will include presentation from two of our talented PhD students. Hyungmo Yang, who will be presenting his research on “Designing Better Apartments: An Investigation into Spatial layouts of Units for Families with Children” and Josephine Roper who is has been investigating “The effect of walkability on property values in Sydney”. More information about the seminar in this newsletter. I hope to see you at one of our forthcoming City Futures Seminar events. In the mean time stay safe and have enjoyable Easter.
 
Regards,
 
Prof Chris Pettit
Director, City Futures Research Centre.