The evolution of Melbourne's urban design team

February 2019

Building on its long-held reputation for intellectual rigour and design expertise, SJB Urban has begun 2019 with an expanded team.

The award-winning practice has been delivering elegantly executed design and exceptional outcomes since 2007, with a team adept at navigating the realities of delivering urban design in an environment of continuous growth and change.

SJB Urban Director, Amanda Roberts, says the team is ideally placed to address the challenges of our rapidly urbanising cities. “Our practice covers both ends of the urban design spectrum from big-picture creative visions to rigorous approaches to regulatory requirements.”

The SJB Urban team now combines Amanda’s innovative, exciting and place-enhancing design work – as well as her exceptional skills in stakeholder-management – with the talents of SJB’s new Associate Director, Brodie Blades. Brodie is well known in the design industry for his extensive experience in guiding projects through Victorian State and local government planning processes.

“When clients work with us, they now have direct access to Brodie’s in-depth knowledge of Victoria’s planning and VCAT processes,” Amanda says.

The SJB team members share a common desire to create places that improve the human experience and create a sustainable, environmentally friendly future for all.

“Between Amanda, myself and our diverse team, SJB Urban is at the forefront of the nexus between urban design and development regulation. We understand the development frameworks of our towns and cities and work collaboratively with our clients, our stakeholders, and each other, to ensure outcomes are place-specific and deliverable,” Brodie says.

Working with such a multi-talented team offering both a visionary outlook and proven regulatory acumen can make a real difference in today’s urban design environment. By balancing the creative and innovative with the practical and contextual, SJB Urban can deliver outcomes that are both truly inspiring and wholly achievable.

“Each team member brings a unique perspective and depth of knowledge to work in finding and solving problems, before a potential issue can become embedded in the design. This saves clients time and money – and future headaches,” Amanda says.

Beyond the team’s technical expertise, the SJB Urban team puts a real focus on good communication to build strong collaborative relationships with clients and project partners, and to connect with stakeholders in building shared and fully realised visions for its projects.

SJB Urban: the why, how and what

Why

SJB Urban is passionate about the possibilities of urban design in creating amazing places that fulfil the needs of the myriad people they serve.

How

We develop intelligent design solutions through collaborative processes. Outcomes are embedded in the places they are located, engaging with the full diversity of people and activities ensuring resilient, responsive places. We achieve each project’s objectives through expert urban design intellect and compelling communication.

What

The diversity of skills within our team allows us to work across the full urban design spectrum, including urban design advice; accurate and considered development feasibility studies; statutory expertise and urban design expert witness services at planning panels and VCAT; master plans, development plans and frameworks based on rigorous design testing backed by an understanding of development imperatives; and inspiring community engagement processes ensuring genuine collaboration.

"Victoria is growing rapidly and the tensions between new and old, density and liveability and sometimes between good design and development are continually being played out in the industry. I believe that the greatest impact on our quality of life will not be from the increased number of people, but from the quality of the development and infrastructure being designed and built to accommodate the growth. I am passionate about working with clients across the spectrum to ensure their impact is a good one through  collaboration, stakeholder education, and clear and engaging  communication."

Amanda Roberts - Director, SJB

I believe that all Victorians have a right to expect great urban design – design that delivers timeless, elegant, authentic and compelling outcomes that are biased only toward the people that use them. I am fascinated by the built environment and am intrigued by the myriad processes and complexities that shape them, and believe that clarity and pragmaticism are the most powerful tools in elevating the importance of design in influencing each. Personally, I am driven to empower others to engage with design by ‘demystifying’ the process – after all, the more voices demanding greater design outcomes, the better our built environment!

Brodie Blades - Associate Director, SJB

Amanda Roberts, Director (right) and Brodie Blades, Associate Director (left) lead SJB Urban’s Melbourne Studio.


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SJB Folio No.4