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Urban Design Through the Work of Donovan Hill's Architect

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KDA222 AUSTRALIAN ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN / Mohamad Afiqq Che Zani @ Jailani 175756 17. Identify key urban design themes in the work of Donovan, in either residential or commercial/public buildings. This essay will explain about the key features and themes of the urban design as in BVN Donovan Hill works in their commercial/public buildings. Donovan Hill architects was established in Brisbane in 1992 by two principles, Brian Donovan and Timothy Hill are graduate of the University of Queensland. Most of their design approach practiced in Australia is influenced by United Kingdom and United States architects and theorist such as Colin Rowe, Christopher Alexander and Colin St John Wilson.1 BVN Architecture is one of Australia’s biggest architectural practices, well-known for award winning across a broad and diverse portfolio in Australia and outside Australia. “The architectural engagement ranges from civic and institutional projects to office and residential design, tourism projects, industrial developments, master planning and urban design”.2 Some of their notable projects focused in this essay is in commercial/public building which is designed based on approaching the inevitability of the environment that is addressed with comprehensive understanding of the client, needs of the people, processes and places that illustrate the realm of their culture that aligns with it’s urban design.3. “Urban design defined as planned activities and products intended at resulting from the physical shaping and development of human compensations: setting up the function of the suburb, town, cities, region and neighborhood. Modern urban design relates architecture to the world of public policy and politics, to urban development, planning, landscape design and a host of other profession involved in the making of built environment. Australian’s urban design ordinarily carries the coordinated activities safeguarding the public realms to help civilize particular commercial development plans in the public interest”4. Also, urban design intends to create useful, attractive, safe environmentally sustainable, economically successful and socially equitable places. Further, good urban design seeks some local identity and sense of place, cultural responsiveness and purposeful environmentally innovation for achieving a high level of quality, comfort, safety, equity, beauty and cohesion in the overall, physical outcome of


Goad, Philip and Willis Julie , 2011. The Encyclopedia of Australian Architecture. 1st ed. Australian: Cambridge University Press. Page 212
2 3 (accessed 20 September 2013) (accessed 20 September 2013) 4 Goad, Philip and Willis Julie , 2011. The Encyclopedia of Australian Architecture. 1st ed. Australian: Cambridge University Press. Page 725


all the development, planning, engineering, architectural and landscape design decisions that contribute to urban change 5. “The site and range of the building should respond to the existing natural and developed features of environmental context that complements distinctive local landscape, sense of places and history whilst providing a quality living environment will establish a rich environmental character unique to its locality”. 6 The point to choose BVN Donovan Hill’s urban design work is to focus on their special features applied to the building such as cultural sensitivity and surroundings. The conservation interprets the cultural areas and heritage values by expressing the innovative landscape, public realm and walkway as well as encouraging people to gather to the building. Furthermore, It is a good opportunity for people to discover about heritage and culture through the building itself.

Figure 1; Timothy Hill (left) and Brian Donovan (right) Source: (Accessed 24 September 2013)

One of the commendable projects that provide a good response to its surrounding context is AM60, a commercial tower located in Brisbane CBD. It is 23 level high rise office development built on the corner of Albert Street and Margaret Street as you can see also it is located nearby to older structures building that serve to give constancy and character to this part of the city and next to buildings that have an identical scale and

5 (accessed 22 September 2013) (accessed 22 September 2013)



program by its urban context7. Some of the urban key themes can be identified through this building is by its special spaces of natural or cultural significance at the ground level space which is provided for multiple functions that also promote the enlivening of the public realm and simplify the functional servicing of the building8. The major frontage is portrayed by a multicolored glassy façade which covers around the corner into a minor street where concrete and masonry elements give a good characteristic by its scale as well as more generous solar control. The podium of the building also attracts people to enter the public realm as the street also sustains a sense of quality which is breezy and easily managed on Albert Street; in addition the central core arrangement in the typical office floors that allows occupation on each façade, with large flexible floor space where occupants can be planned as a community of people in both single and multiple tenancy arrangements. 9

Figure 2; View of AM60 from Albert Street Source: (Accessed 24 September 2013)

Figure 3; View of AM60 from Margaret Street Source: (Accessed 24 September 2013)

The other key response to the urban is the legibility use of scaling devices on the different facades; the massive concrete framing devices attached to floor slabs over the glass enclosure of the building provides a visual abundance to the façade along with

7 8 9

AM60 : (accessed 22 September 2013) (accessed 22 September 2013) (accessed 22 September 2013)


various visual contexts from the interior looking outward, which is lacking typically in commercial space.10 Another successful project is Taronga Zoo; most visitors have to step on to Upper Entry Precinct before entering the zoo. The urban quality of the project draws its inspiration from the beauty of the Taronga Landscape by the bizarre wildlife and a sandstone plateau with breathtaking sight of the harbor through land bush. The project is visualized as a promenade through a landscape, brightened by surrounding buildings which persuades visitor to come to the Zoo itself.11 “Three guiding principles were adopted; landscape as foreground as the building as for the background; the Zoo as a walled garden; and entry as promenade”. It is established an urban key theme with a hierarchy of both public and private spaces by separation of vehicular and pedestrian traffic. As for the public space the creation of a new space for the ticketing led the strategies of the principles and contradiction of the parking diagram whereby daily parking is shifted to the back of the site, leaving a landscape buffer to be used for overflow parking only on very busy days 12. There is a very clear distinction between public and private space. The consequence of separating car park space from the buildings has allowed the act of entering the zoo to become recognized, as opposed to being dominated by the clutter of buses and drop-off points. The consideration of road, footpath and public spaces connection provides highest density where access is well-used, easy to get in and out and a clear route direction that lead to where people want to go. The success of this project is realized through the generosity of the landscaping and the inclusion of public terrain within the grounds of the zoo.13

Figure 4; View of the lower level of Taroonga Zoo Source: (Accessed 24 September 2013)
10 11 (accessed 22 September 2013)

Taroonga Park :^Design&t pl=ext(accessed 22 September 2013)
12 13

ibid (accessed 22 September 2013)


The new Santos Place Brisbane was completed in 2009; a high-rise project located in Brisbane cropping up from the north-west edge of Brisbane’s city grid accommodates around 590 staff across seven floors in different working styles14. The 30 towers floor consist with ground floor, 5 podium floors, 12 low rise floors, 11 mid-rise floors, 7 high rise floors plus roof level with service plant space. In contrast, the building comes with a palette of colors. On its most open face facing to the south above the river, the building seems as strips of black spandrel panels arranged like giant pixels of orange, yellow, mauve and red. At one level, these colors show the quality of the city’s natural light through the day and the tones of the landscape. 15This the diversity of the urban principle by the variety of form and development character through the building. 16

Figure 5; View of New Santos Place by the river Source: (Accessed 25 September 2013)

The most symbolic interference to the base building was the formation of an interconnecting stair and voids that expedite internal traffic throughout the entire work place as well as creating visual connection between other floors to encourage a strong sense of community and to expand the interaction across groups of people and individuals. 17The creation of a context of livability for people to engage with each other and the principle of urban connectivity can be identified through the vibrancy on how the places interacted. 18

New Santos Place : (accessed 22 September 2013)
15 16
17 18 (accessed 22 September 2013) (accessed 22 September 2013) ibid (accessed 22 September 2013)


The ground level organization provides a variety of functions to generate activities that engage with the public realm of the street. 19The place responds to urban features by the environmental context as a distinctive landscape with its special spaces of natural or cultural significance. 20The Turbot street portico is clarified to become a miniature building over the walkway space and serves a functional role as well as contributing to the network of CBD markers and experiences creating a place making role for the building, the access has been navigated to create not only a building, but also appoints to a new laneway connection through the deep block to the northern landing of Kurilpa Bridge. The trough-site-link includes a tenancy along the northern and southern edge that can extend in to activate the pedestrian lane. The tenancy space also has a frontage to Turbot Street, offering the urban use of multiple addresses and consequently more street activities. 21The sense of public spaces and routes is stimulating and easy to use as well as ensuring the recognition of good urban design quality.22

Figure 6; A new laneway extends along Santos Place’s southern edge, connecting to the Kurilpa Bridge Source: (Accessed 25 September 2013)
19 22 September 2013) 20 22 September 2013)
21 22 22 September 2013) (accessed 22 September 2013)


55 Elizabeth Street Brisbane was completed in 2013, the 15 levels building in Brisbane’s CBD is a significant commercial office development exposing sensitive urban design within a heritage context incorporating a future approach to the contemporary workplace for the subtropics. It responds to its heritage precinct to the immediate experience of the activated street at the frontage and wider experience within the public laneway. The buildings is relatively moderate in scale, with a triplet arrangement which reflects historic CBD development heights, going through to both plan and section in response to important street views to neighboring heritage building. The lower heavy base aligns with the building adjacent, and the finned upper section starts at the parapet line of the neighbor. Each level of the building reflects the different contextual qualities and eras at each level – from the monumental sandstone plane at entry level to the minimalist anodized sunshades to the upper western façade 23. The street pattern of the building, special spaces, natural or cultural significance, local culture and tradition are responded to the existing environmental context amplifying the characteristic of the urban.24 Landscape spaces are provided and activated to both primary street addresses which serve a future cross block link to Charlotte Street also incorporating a café by the public laneway. 25Building and areas are adaptable to a variety of present and future uses consolidate the adaptability of the urban principle. 26

Figure 7; The façade view of 55 Elizabeth St Source: (Accessed 25 September 2013)

55 Elizabeth: (accessed 22 September 2013)
24 25 (accessed 22 September 2013) (accessed 22 September 2013) 26 (accessed 22 September 2013)


Cook and Phillip Park is located in NSW Sydney, was completed in 1999; the park is a sequence of urban spaces between William Wardell’s 1862 St Mary’s Cathedral and James Barnet’s wing of the Australian Museum together with a major park. The development provides a rich range of surfaces, experiences, and landscape broadening the civic square of St Mary’s Cathedral, without reducing the importance and structure of Hyde Park27. The key urban design feature of the park can be identified by the good landscape quality which generates a sense of wellbeing and amenity, ensuring recognition of the natural context and the functional requirements of the community; responding with places suited to the needs of everyone including disabled, elderly people and the very young.28 The park has developed by dividing two busy roads at the east of Hyde Park. Since the opening in 1999 there has been astounding response from the public in support of the Cook and Phillip center with its pool, gym and basketball court. 29 The original crosswise road system dissembling under the landscape is indicated by the lines of original mature trees and mixed between these trees lie pedestrian bridges that connect landscaped events and water elements. The space successfully distributes many users, from school children and churchgoers to office workers and joggers. Routes through the garden give long walks or short distance ways and the expanded use of water features helps bearable street noise and hints at the pools located under the paved plaza.30 Cook and Phillip Park responds to existing natural and developed features of the environmental context that enhances the distinctive local landscape, natural features, building materials, sense of place and history whilst providing a quality living environment.31


(accessed 25 September 2013) 28 (accessed 25 September 2013)
29 30 (accessed 25 September 2013)^Design&tpl=ext

(accessed 25 September 2013) 31 (accessed 25 September 2013)


Figure 8; The aerial view of Cook & Phillips Park Source: (Accessed 25 September 2013)

In conclusion, much of BVN Donovan Hill architect’s work conserves and interprets areas of special cultural and heritage value surrounding the site context. In order to simplifies the functional of commercial building, they managed the design to respond to the environment in scale and program distributing different function throughout building by enliven the public realm; the placement of the street pattern and special spaces that blends to natural existing context. Also encourages community to interact to each other in the design of flexible uses space. The promenade entrance through a landscape as the foreground surrounded by beautiful buildings and the building as the background persuades visitor to come over to the Taroonga Zoo moreover the distinctive separation between public and private space allowing people to use the path clearly without any confusion. All accesses are well-used as well as keeping the highest density of people. In Sydney, the design intervention in the public realm encourages innovative expression to the landscape, heritage and culture. The creation of hierarchy in public spaces makes the function and importance of the space as clearly evident. The establishment of a continuous active retail and community facility are frontage to main pedestrian route encourages people to gather at the place, while expanding opportunities for vehicular, pedestrian and cyclist movement into the building generates quality urban design.


Books: Goad, Philip and Willis Julie , 2011. The Encyclopedia of Australian Architecture. 1st ed. Australian: Cambridge University Press. Page 212, Page 725 Internet: (accessed 20 September 2013) (accessed 22 September 2013) (accessed 22 September 2013) AM60 : (accessed 22 September 2013) (accessed 22 September 2013) (accessed 22 September 2013) pe&pcat=Urban^Design&tpl=ext(accessed 22 September 2013) pe&pcat=Urban^Design&tpl=ext ry.html?OpenDocument&idx=Type&pcat=Urban^Design&tpl=ext (accessed 22 September 2013) place&tpl=ext (accessed 22 September 2013) (accessed 22 September 2013) (accessed 22 September 2013) tpl=ext (accessed 22 September 2013)^Des ign&tpl=ext (accessed 25 September 2013) (accessed 25 September 2013)

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High-Involvement Work Design and Job Satisfaction

...HIGH-INVOLVEMENT WORK DESIGN AND JOB SATISFACTION ROBERT D. MOHR and CINDY ZOGHI Job satisfaction has important economic effects. Low job satisfaction is associated with higher rates of quitting and higher rates of absenteeism; high job satisfaction correlates with improved job performance and organizational citizenship behaviour. Dissatisfaction therefore may result in higher labour costs and lower productivity. This article studies the relationship between job satisfaction and high-involvement. The huge no. of observation (25000) has allowed the authors to draw general insights about the relationship. Also authors could check additional variables which may be indicator of dissatisfaction and thus allowed the authors to test how broad a range of satisfaction measures can be linked to high-involvement work practises. Finally, because they used a data set that includes information from both employers and employees and follows both groups over time, they can control for a number of specific sources of bias, and look for evidence on the direction of causality. Background of research: A large body of literature on socio-technical systems, total quality management, and high-performance work systems argues that jobs with a high degree of employee involvement might increase satisfaction. The existing literature also recognizes, however, that even if a positive association between the characteristics of work and the evaluative judgment that individuals make about their......

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