Brief career summary

I am the Founding Director of Swinburne University of Technology’s Smart Cities Research Institute and Professor of Urban Futures, where I commenced May 20th, 2017.

Prior to this I was Professor of Urban Futures at the University of Melbourne in the Faculty of Architecture Building and Planning, where I commenced on December 6th, 2014. This position, created as part of the Research at Melbourne Accelerator Program, was established to develop further the Faculty’s capacity to develop research in urban futures by drawing together and augmenting expertise in urban visualisation, urban analytics, and urban policy. This was a new appointment at the University of Melbourne established as an opportunity to build further on my previous work in the context of urban research, and marked a return to a more architecturally driven research dialogue. There I contributed to the continuing work on the Grand Challenges at Melbourne (‘understanding our place and purpose‘, ‘fostering health and wellbeing‘, and ‘supporting sustainability and resilience‘) through my research which took an urban perspective, seeking to forge cross-Faculty linkages, and to develop a broader range of research and industry connections.

I have published internationally on three main themes: the life and work of the architect Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona, putting theory into practice with regard to ‘challenging’ architecture, and transdisciplinary design education and practice.  I have published widely on broader issues of design, construction, and the use of computers in design theory and practice.

Before joining the University of Melbourne in 2014 I had been the Founding Director of RMIT University’s Design Research Institute (DRI). , which commenced in 2008. DRI positioned design research’s role as an ‘explorer and tester of design options’, focusing on the challenges of urbanisation and growing cities of the Future.  With this focus on the urban, DRI’s supported three flagships: ‘Future Fabric of Cities’, ‘Mediated City’, and ‘Urban Technology Nexus’.  Together these flagships fostered and supported a transdisciplinary approach to design research at the intersection of design education, research, industry, and practice.  The Institute brought over 100 university design researchers to the table along with their industry, government and community partners together in order to access and stimulate a broad spectrum of design thinking.

DRI aimed to build a transdisciplinary design research capability producing knowledge, products and services across the entire range of design disciplines. Researchers were drawn principally from architecture, fashion, aeronautical and chemical engineering, business, industrial design, textiles, art and new media and formed research teams around significant projects.  Working through the Flagship Program, projects were both speculative as well as practical initiatives; applicable to the ways we live and work, create culture and communities, plan and navigate our world. The Institute contributed to an understanding of the value of design and the role of design research among diverse communities and audiences.  DRI was established in 2008 and was formally concluded in 2016 when the University closed all four research institutes.

As founding Director of RMIT’s state-of-the-art Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory (SIAL) since 2001, I led the establishment of a holistic spatial design research environment dedicated to almost all aspects of contemporary spatial design activity.  The laboratory focused on collocated design research and undergraduate and postgraduate teaching with associated advanced computer applications and the rapid prototyping of ideas.  The laboratory had and still has a design-practice emphasis and acts as a creative think-tank accessible to both local and international practices, originally ARUP in Melbourne and London, dECOi in Paris and Gehry Partners in Los Angeles, with many others collaborating thereafter.

Since 1979, I have been a key member of the Sagrada Família Basilica design team based on site in Barcelona.  For almost four decades I have been helping untangle the mysteries of Gaudí’s compositional strategies for his greatest work, especially those strategies coming from his later years, the implications of which are only start becoming fully apparent as they are resolved for building purposes.  In the last decade I have led the design of the principal façade (the Glory Façade), and the design and detailing of the Passion Façade including the rose window and the narthex above the porch (completed in 2017).  I also led the design and detailing of the auditorium space sitting above the crossing where the six principal towers intersect with the body of the basilica (‘Sala Creuer – completed 2017).  My Melbourne based team also completed an exhaustive recovery and digital description of all Gaudí’s surviving 1:25 scale model fragments and the photographs of the Glory Façade interpreting the material at 1:200 scale fas the first phase of its development, which concluded with a 1:25 scale model of the design, handed-over in September 2016.

On February 18 2004, in recognition of my contribution to the Sagrada Família Basilica project, the Reial Acadèmia Catalana de Belles Arts de Sant Jordi awarded me with their prestigious Diploma i la insignia a l’acadèmic corresponent with the title Il·lustríssim Senyor by the Reial Acadèmia Catalana de Belles Arts de Sant Jordi. In May 2006 I was awarded an Australian Research Council Federation Fellowship, one of Australia’s most prestigious research fellowships, in acknowledgment of my international leadership in the field of ‘complex architecture and convergent design’, which commenced in 2007. Up to 25 of these awards were made annually for a five-year period competed for across the whole academic community.  The majority of these grants are awarded to people in the science and technology areas, with just one or two awarded to people in the creative arts and humanities disciplines each year for teh whole of the country.  In 2006 I was also recipient of the USA Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) annual Award for Innovative Research, and in 2012 I was awarded the Biennial Sasada Award by CAADRIA (The Association for Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia).  This award is given to “an individual whose sustained record of contributions demonstrates or promises significant impact on the field of computer aided design”.  In 2016 I shared with Jane Burry the Innovation Award from the international Robots in Architecture conference committee.

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