newport project studio

The University Of Melbourne - Summer 2019.

Project Description

How might we rethink the challenges of rapid population growth in our neighbourhoods and suburbs as an opportunity to maximise the benefits of public spaces through fostering community participation?

Managing population growth and urban liveability is one of the challenges faced by the Hobson Bay City Council regarding the redevelopment and continuing growth of Newport. For this reason, the tightknit community of Newport was invited to participate in the reimagination of Pain Reserve, a humble open space in the centre of their community. The aim of the project was to look at how this public space could become a more vital and viable part of the community. Led by Donna Jackson of hubcap studios, the project focused on the activation of the underutilised Paine Reserve through a process of co-design involving community and experts. This was achieved through a unique collaboration of artists, community members, business owners, students and academics at the University of Melbourne.

The purpose of the summer design studio was for students to work in groups and generate a set of design ideas for Paine Reserve. Placemaking activities designed for playful and informative community engagement drove design outcomes intended to reflect the community’s desires and wishes. At the end of the studio, the final designs were presented to the community for feedback and reflection.

The studio stemmed from a wider community engagement initiative of Hobson Bay City council. Through placemaking and the collaborative efforts of those involved, Donna Jackson was able to present a set of recommendations to Hobson City council for review that embodied the community’s thoughts and desires.

Learning Methodology

In a period of 7 weeks the students were immersed in the Newport community, having an opportunity to take all lessons at the Community Hub, which allowed the students to experience Newport area in depth. The studio was open to all built environment disciplines with assessment strategies adapted to allow skill development and evaluation based on their future roles as placemakers.

Students worked collaboratively in small groups to plan, design and implement strategies for community engagement. In turn, designs were driven by the need to reflect and respond to community perceptions gathered during the engagement activities. Groups were required to manage a real budget, safety and policies of the Newport area.

To be effective placemakers, students were challenged to grow their skills with a focus on community engagement and how this process can be genuine, authentic and receptive. Key skills to this process involved active listening, creative engagement and appreciation of the important relationships between planning, design, society and the environment.

How does this studio match PlaceAgency Objectives?

The studio created an opportunity for students to work closely with the local community. Students learned how to approach stakeholders, how to collect data from them, and how to engage the community thoughtfully and playfully in their design process. They explored the challenges of how to design a space that includes the needs of all community members. Students were encouraged to adopt the role of facilitator rather than designer.

Activities – Studio Outline

ActivityDescriptionKey dates for activitiesKey learning objectives
Development and researchDesign and placemaking inspirations, visit to railway yards, visit to power stationFri 19- JanEngaging the community in the design process
Community feedbackTake community feedback and make conclusionsThurs 25-JanDesign development
Design interim presentationPresent first design ideas to community and tradersFri 2 FebResponding to feedback
ExhibitionPresent to communityWed 21- FebEngage community about the design and collect feedback


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Studio Leaders
Dominique HesDominique Hes
Gini LeeGini Lee
Judy BushJudy Bush
Project champion

Tom Bulic

Donna Jackson

Donna Jackson

Megan Slattery

Megan Slattery

Lindy Allen

Lindy Allen

Peter Hemphill

Peter Hemphill

- Architecture
- Landscape Architecture
- Planning

Project Updates

Student final designs

As this was a multidisciplinary studio, involving architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, and planning, there were split requirements for students based on their disciplinary backgrounds. The studio produced 7 final projects; 4 design team projects and 3 individual urban planning…

The Design Challenge and Place Process

At the end of the studio, the students were expected to deliver four design ideas for the redevelopment of the Paine Reserve area (architecture, landscape and construction students) and four strategic plans (planning students) that could be incorporated by the…

Placemaking activity – Imaginarium

By Andy Choi, Bonnie Gordon, Meg Varley, Aleksandra Nikitina, Kevin Sutanto. The premise of this engagement activity was to design for community with community. By handing over the designer’s pen, the community was invited to draw what they wanted to see…

Placemaking activity – Play

By Rob Snelling, Kendal McQuire, Polyvios Nicolau, Rick Clarke. How can a site be playfully reimagined to inspire new forms of play? Students wanted to gain an understanding of the genius loci (sprit of place), discover what types of play would…

Placemaking activity – the Newport masterpiece

By Nicole Inskip, Yueting Guo, Jiawei Yin, Noel Shi. This student group was thrown the challenge of exploring the possibilities and opportunities to activate one of the park’s pathway entrances adjacent to the local bowls club. In an effort to attract…

Placemaking activity – Home away from home

By Andrew Curnow, Eloise Mitchell, Josh Mannerheim, Hanyu Yang & Yiran Wang. Kids love jumping castles and parents love coffee! This engagement station brought the two together to foster an informal space for conversations focused on family needs in a public…

Newport Studio Legacy

What does deep collaboration look like? What happens when we bring artists, students, council and community together to reimagine place?  Take a look at this fantastic video, click image image above, to gain insights into a place-based journey and the…

Detailed Learning Methodology

This studio was the first of the nationwide placemaking studios created by the Place Agency Consortium. The purpose of the studio was to take students through the first two aspects of a place-based journey; People and Process. People: The students…

Newport’s story

The land of Hobson Bay prior to Europe settlement was home to the Yalukit-Willam people, a name meaning ‘river camp’ or river dwellers’. The Wurundjeri-Willam have long been neighbours of the Yalukit-willam and as such have custodial obligations and shared…