Research focus and projects - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Research focus and projects

The key focus areas of the BASC Lab are listed below, and we welcome Higher Degree Research applications and industry collaboration in these areas:

  • Bioclimatic Urban Design and Planning
  • Sociotechnical Systems Thinking
  • Systems Methods
  • Urban Microclimate
  • Urban Comfort
  • Urban Complexity
  • Urban Ecosystems
  • Urban Design
  • Town Planning
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics

Current research projects

Urban Design and Town Planning in response to COVID-19

Research team: Dr Nicholas Stevens, Dr Silvia Tavares

This project offers a Human Factors and Ergonomic & Sociotechnical Systems (HFE & STS) methodology to assist in the exploration and description of COVID-19 lockdown impacts on public spaces in Australia. We look at past 'fast disasters', and the pandemic as a 'slow disaster'. Traumatic and rapid events that affect the built environment tend to generate visible changes and, as a consequence, change is the only way forward. While the current situation of COVID-19 presents itself as a 'slow disaster', we investigate the lessons from fast disasters in making urban spaces safer and more resilient in face of potential future disease outbreaks.

Urban Design Solutions for Ameliorating Urban Heat Island Effect in Townsville

Research team: Dr Silvia Tavares, Professor Karine Dupré (Griffith University)

This project provides evidence-based analysis of UHI in regard to urban form and design and people’s place experience. It also serves as a model for future projects to assess the impacts of UHI on human health and comfort. The project is currently focused on Ipswich and Townsville, both cities located in Queensland, Australia.

Bioclimatic urban design policy for improved microclimates in the public realm: A case study of extreme heat mitigation in Queensland

Research Team: Ryan McNeilly Smith (PhD Student), Dr Silvia Tavares (supervisor), Dr Nicholas Stevens (co-supervisor)

The theoretical contribution of this work includes the systems theory mapping of bioclimatic urban design and the combined use of systems theory and alternative futures theory; the use of the latter is novel for urban design and planning. Methodologically and for planning practice, the findings and outputs of this work will provide a framework to support the implementation of climate-appropriate urban design solutions based upon bioclimatic design principles. The work will also contribute to the capacity to visualise systems theory and alternative futures outcomes. Further, it is anticipated the Queensland case study will support the increased adoption of heat mitigation urban design policies in planning legislation, regulation, and local planning schemes in the state.

Inclusive Public Spaces and Community Infrastructure – a sensory urban design approach

Research team: Dr Nicholas Stevens, Mr Tobias Volbert (7 Senses Foundation)

People experience public spaces in vastly different ways through a diverse range of sensory inputs and outputs. This may be a pleasant or disagreeable experience depending on a person's ability to process and respond to information received through their senses. To address disparities in the way people, interact with their surrounding natural and built environments, sensory urban design is now emerging as an innovative framework underpinning the development of inclusive urban spaces.

This project has developed an audit tool and methodology which illustrates the importance of integrating sensory design elements into community infrastructures such as libraries, galleries, community halls and sporting faculties. The systems approach provides a holistic audit and review process which enables greater understanding of the impacts and influences of inclusive community infrastructure.