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Planing map of a city


Investigating the complex dimensions of urban living and planning
We research the design, characteristics and processes of urbanism (living in cities) and the policy and planning solutions proposed to create better cities.

We are a group of urban researchers concerned with the dynamics, experiences and governance of cities and regions. We are especially focused on the intersections between markets and policy intervention in shaping urban structure, housing, transport/ mobility, community and the public realm.

We conduct multidisciplinary, engaged research through the Urban Housing Lab which brings together urban planners, geographers, economists, architects and computer scientists; we focus particularly on housing through our Australian Housing and Research Institute Sydney research centre; and we examine digital technologies and their transformation of cities, including, but not limited to smart cities.

Our research domains include international studies with a focus on Southeast Asia and the Pacific; metropolitan planning; housing studies; regional policy and many other fields of policy and development.

The group’s expertise contributes to the following Labs:

Our researchers also contribute to:


We collaborate and engage with a range of industry and community partners. They include state and local governments, community- based organisations, and the private sector. These include:

Current funded projects

Funding source: 2018-19, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI)

Researchers: Enquiry led by Professor Nicole Gurran and Professor Robyn Dowling

Funding source: 2018-19, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute

Researchers: Enquiry led by Professor Robyn Dowling with Dr Tooran Alizadeh, Dr Sophia Maalsen, Ms Catherine Gilbert and Professor Peter Phibbs.

Funding source: 2018-19, Australian Federal Governement Smart Cities and Suburbs Program

Researchers: Dr Tooran Alizadeh, Professor Robyn Dowling, Dr Martin Tomitsch, Dr Somwrita Sarkar and Dr Luke Hespanhol

This project develops new algorithms and tools to capture citizens’ voices and better inform local government decisionmaking. It investigates active and passive crowdsourcing channels and their potential for reaching out to citizens and collecting their opinions and attitudes on major urban development and infrastructure projects. A range of online sources will be used to source data, including social media, public comments on relevant online media releases and news articles.

The project will produce a flexible digital platform that will enable local governments to capture and visualise citizens’ voices. Using machine learning, the platform will be able to predict citizens’ responses to urban interventions before their completion. This project is run under the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, funded by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

Funding source: 2018-19, Henry Halloran Trust: Blue Sky Project

Researchers: Professor Michael Darcy (UWS), Dr Sophia Maalsen (University of Sydney), Dr Dallas Rogers (University of Sydney), Dr Marilu Melol (University of Sydney), Dr Jenna Condie (UWS), Mr Alistair Sisson, Ms Pratichi Chatterjee (University of Sydney), Ms Laura Wynne (UTS) and Mr Joel Sherwood-Spring

This project will evaluate the resident-led masterplanning process underway for the Waterloo public housing estate. Its central research questions address the HHT priority theme of ‘engagement infrastructure’, with implications for state- and resident-led community engagement. The project’s innovative methodology involves collation and cross-analysis of data that has already been collected, or is being collected, by the investigators. The project will not involve collecting new data from this over-researched community, but rather will involve this community in the analysis. The project investigators include three early career researchers (ECRs) and three PhD students; as such, the project is also one of ECR capacity building.

Funding source: 2017-19, Human Health and Social Impacts Node of the NSW Adaptation Research Hub Climate Change, Housing and Health

Researchers: Professor Nicole Gurran, Associate Professor Tess Lea, Dr Ollie Jay

Project aims

  • Scope the extent to which unaffordable, insecure or marginal forms of housing exacerbate existing climate -elated vulnerability.
  • Identify particular risks associated with specific dwelling types occupied by high-need groups in low-cost social, private, rental and marginal forms of housing tenure.
  • Identify the magnitude of physiological heat strain experienced by householders against this housing typology during laboratory simulated extreme heat events.
  • Assess the efficacy of low-cost cooling technologies for mitigating physiological heat strain during simulated extreme heat events.
  • Develop suggested communication strategies to raise awareness about adaptation options.
  • Develop a wider range of policy measures that might be introduced to reduce housing and health-related risks arising from climate change, in dialogue with housing and health professionals.

Researchers: Associate Professor Kurt Iveson, Professor John Keane, Dr Madeleine Pill, Dr Adrienne Keane, Professor Helga Leitner, Associate Professor Mark Davidson, Professor Jane Wills, Professor Romand Coles, Professor Leo Penta

In a growing number of cities, citizens are channeling frustration with existing citizen engagement processes into the creation of urban alliances that bring together diverse civil society actors to articulate and pursue common interests. The intention of such alliances is to enable citizens to play a proactive role in the shaping of their cities, as an alternative to the reactive role they are often ascribed in existing governance and planning frameworks. This will be the first international comparative study of these alliances.

Through desk-based mapping and qualitative case studies, the project will examine their global extent, their different forms and activities, their relationship to existing forms of citizen participation in existing structures of urban governance and planning, and their effectiveness as infrastructures for citizen engagement and empowerment. The research will contribute to scholarly understanding of citizen participation in urban governance and planning. It will also make significant practical contributions to the efforts of citizens seeking to build new infrastructures for participating in urban governance, and it will also aid the efforts of those working in planning agencies who are seeking more genuine citizen participation.

Funding source: Australian Coastal Councils Association Inc

Inquiry leader: Professor Nicole Gurran

This inquiry aims to identify appropriate planning responses to the impacts of online platforms on short-term holiday rental accomodation in coastal Australia.

Funding source: 2016-17, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute National Research Program (AHURI), $351,000

Inquiry leader: Professor Nicole Gurran

This inquiry examines efforts to increase affordable housing supply, focusing on government-industry partnerships, planning levers and 'best practice' housing projects. Informed by international and local practice, it identifies principles and policy options for different market contexts and will develop a model for estimating affordability outcomes for various policy scenarios in different market contexts.

Funding source: 2016-17, Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW)

Inquiry leaders: Dr Peter Davies, Associate Professor Linda Corkery (UNSW), Dr David Nipperess (Macquarie University), Dr Paul Osmond (UNSW), Guy Barnett, Dr Adrienne Keane (University of Sydney), Ms Caragh Threlfall (University of Melbourne), Associate Professor Melanie Bishop (Macquarie University), Associate Professor Sara Wilkinson (UTS), Dr Brenda Lin, Associate Professor Grant Hose (Macquarie University) and Associate Professor Adam J. Stow (Macquarie University)

The urban ecology renewal investigation project provided in-depth research into ways to improve biodiversity outcomes for major cities in NSW including Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle.

Funding source: 2015-17, Henry Halloran Trust, Research Incubator

Researchers: Professor Nicole Gurran, Dr Somwrita Sarkar, Dr Jennifer Kent 

Housing is a central component of urban infrastructure, yet provision of appropriate and affordable housing near transport and jobs remains a key challenge. Addressing this challenge depends on better understanding the mechanics of the housing market and how policy interventions – like urban planning – might enhance housing outcomes. Building on the big-data capacity of UrbanLab@Sydney, this Incubator constructs a research platform for examining housing market dynamics in Sydney and potential levers for change. Research fostered within the Incubator will connect to wider scholarship on planning, infrastructure, the market and big-data analytics, while distilling key implications for urban policy and practice. 

Our researchers







  • Kent, J., Thompson, S. (2019). Planning Australia's Healthy Built Environments. New York: Routledge. [More Information]
  • Maalsen, S. (2019). The Social Life of Sound. Singapore: Springer. [More Information]
  • Willis, J., Goad, P., Logan, C. (2019). Architecture and the Modern Hospital: Nosokomeion to Hygeia. Oxon: Routledge.

Book chapters

  • Dowling, R., McGuirk, P., Maalsen, S. (2019). Realising smart cities: partnerships and economic development in the emergence and practices of smart in Newcastle, Australia. In Andrew Karvonen, Federico Cugurullo, Federico Caprotti (Eds.), Inside Smart Cities: Place, Politics and Urban Innovation. Melbourne: Routledge.

Refereed journal articles

  • Gilbert, C., Gurran, N. (2019). Planning for Diverse and Affordable Housing Supply? A Survey of 200 Australian Planning Schemes. Journal of Planning Education and Research, online (in press). [More Information]
  •  Gurran, N., Sadowski, J. (2019). Regulatory Combat: How the 'Sharing Economy' is Disrupting Planning Practice. Planning Theory and Practice, 20(2). [More Information]
  • Grubesic, T., Helderop, E., Alizadeh, T. (2019). Closing information asymmetries: A scale agnostic approach for exploring equity implications of broadband provision. Telecommunications Policy, 43(1), 50-66. [More Information]
  • Gurran, N., Sadowski, J. (2019). Regulatory Combat: How the 'Sharing Economy' is Disrupting Planning Practice. Planning Theory and Practice, 20(2). [More Information]
  • Grubesic, T., Alizadeh, T. (2019). Introduction to the special issue: Why "Access to data" is now more important than ever. The Information Society, 35(2), 55-56. [More Information]
  • Helderop, E., Grubesic, T., Alizadeh, T. (2019). Data deluge or data trickle? Difficulties in acquiring public data for telecommunications policy analysis. The Information Society, 35(2), 69-80. [More Information]
  • Hamanifard, Z., Alizadeh, T., Bosman, C., Coiacetto, E. (2019). Measuring experiential qualities of urban public spaces: users' perspective. Journal of Urban Design, online (in press). [More Information]
  • Kent, J., Mulley, C., Stevens, N. (2019). Transport and wellbeing in a newly constructed greenfield estate: A quantitative exploration of the commuting experience. Journal of Transport and Health, 13(2019), 210-223. [More Information]
  • Maalsen, S. (2019). Smart housing: the political and market responses of the intersections between housing, new sharing economies and smart cities. Cities, 84, 1-7. [More Information]
  • Maalsen, S., Sadowski, J. (2019). The Smart Home on FIRE: Amplifying and Accelerating Domestic Discipline. Surveillance and Society, 17(1/2), 118-124.
  • Rogers, D., Herbert, M. (2019). Podcasting and Urban Planning. Planning Theory and Practice, 20(2), 298-304. [More Information]
  • Sarkar, S. (2019). Urban scaling and the geographic concentration of inequalities by city size. Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science, In Press. [More Information]
  • Sisson, A., Rogers, D., Gibson, C. (2019). Property Speculation, Global Capital, Urban Planning and Financialisation: Sydney Boom, Sydney Bust redux. Australian Geographer, 50(1). [More Information]


  • Rogers, D., Koh, S. (2018). The Globalisation of Local Real Estate: The Politics and Practice of Foreign Real Estate Investment. London: Routledge London.

Book chapters

  • Alizadeh, T., Farid, R., Willems, L. (2018). The Role of Social Media in Public Involvement: Pushing for Sustainability in International Planning and Development. In Carlos Nunes Silva (Eds.), New Approaches, Methods, and Tools in Urban E-Planning, (pp. 310-342). Hershey: IGI Global. [More Information]
  • Dowling, R., Mc-Guirk, P., Bulkeley, H. (2018). Governing carbon conduct and subjects: Insights from Australian cities. In Andres Luque-Ayala, Simon Marvin, Harriet Bulkeley (Eds.), Rethinking Urban Transitions: Politics in the Low Carbon City, (pp. 185-202). Oxon: Routledge. [More Information]
  • Dowling, R., McGuirk, P., Maalsen, S. (2018). Realising smart cities: partnerships and economic development in the emergence and practices of smart in Newcastle, Australia. In Andrew Karvonen, Federico Cugurullo, Federico Caprotti (Eds.), Inside Smart Cities: Place, Politics and Urban Innovation. Melbourne: Routledge.
  • Dowling, R. (2018). Smart Mobility: Disrupting Transport Governance? In Greg Marsden, Louise Reardon (Eds.), Governance of the Smart Mobility Transition, (pp. 51-64). Bingley: Emerald Publishing Limited. [More Information]
  • Gurran, N., Phibbs, P. (2018). Urban Regeneration and Planning Regulations. In Kristian Ruming (Eds.), Urban Regeneration in Australia: Policies, Processes and Projects of Contemporary Urban Change, (pp. 51-73). Oxon: Routledge. [More Information]
  • Lu, D., Webber, P. (2018). A Theory Moment. In Andrew Leach, Lee Stickells (Eds.), Sydney School: Formative Moments in Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney, (pp. 167-176). Melbourne: Uro.
  • Lu, D. (2018). Space and gender in the Chinese workplace: Past and present. In Alexandra Staub (Eds.), The Routledge Companion to Modernity, Space and Gender, (pp. 338-349). New York: Routledge. [More Information]
  • Perng, S., Maalsen, S. (2018). Crafting code: gender, coding and spatial hybridity in the events of PyLadies Dublin. In Susan Luckman, Nicola Thomas (Eds.), Craft Economies, (pp. 223-232). London: Bloomsbury Academic.
  • Phibbs, P., Gurran, N. (2018). Housing in Australia: The Game of Homes. In D. Cahill, & P. Toner (Eds.), Wrong Way: How Privatisation and Economic Reform Backfired, (pp. 202-220). Carlton: La Trobe University Press in conjunction with Black Inc.

Refereed journal articles

  • Alizadeh, T., Irajifar, L. (2018). Gold Coast smart city strategy: Informed by local planning priorities and international smart city best practices. International Journal of Knowledge-Based Development, 9(2), 153-173. [More Information]
  • Alizadeh, T., Farid, R., Sarkar, S. (2018). Towards Understanding the Socio-Economic Patterns of Sharing Economy in Australia: An Investigation of Airbnb Listings in Sydney and Melbourne Metropolitan Regions. Urban Policy and Research, 36(4), 445-463. [More Information]
  • Dowling, R, Maalsen, S, Kent, J 2018, 'Sharing as sociomaterial practice: Car sharing and the material reconstitution of automobility', Geoforum, vol. 88, January, pp. 10-16.
  • Dowling, R., McGuirk, P., Maalsen, S. (2018). Multiscalar governance of urban energy transitions in Australia: The cases of Sydney and Melbourne. Energy Research & Social Science, 44, 260-267. [More Information]
  • Dowling, R., Lloyd, K., Suchet-Pearson, S. (2018). Qualitative methods 3: Experimenting, picturing, sensing. Progress in Human Geography, 42(5), 779-788. [More Information]
  • Dowling, R., Maalsen, S., Kent, J. (2018). Sharing as socio-material practice: Car Sharing and the Material Reconstitution of Automobility. Geoforum, 88, 10-16. [More Information]
  •  Gurran, N. (2018). Global Home-Sharing, Local Communities and the Airbnb Debate: A Planning Research Agenda. Planning Theory and Practice, 19(2), 298-304. [More Information]
  • Gurran, N., Rowley, S., Milligan, V., Randolph, B., Phibbs, P., Gilbert, C., James, A., Troy, L., Van den Nouwelant, R. (2018). Inquiry into increasing affordable housing supply: Evidence-based principles and strategies for Australian policy and practice. Final Report Series of the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), May 2018(300), 1-48. [More Information]
  • Gurran, N. (2018). Public Cities, Public Scholars? Questioning Urban Policy and Research in Australia. Urban Policy and Research, 36(1), 1-10. [More Information]
  • Gurran, N., Van den Nouwelant, R., Gilbert, C., James, A., Gibb, K., Phibbs, P. (2018). Supporting affordable housing supply: inclusionary planning in new and renewing communities. Final Report Series of the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), 297, 1-61. [More Information]
  • Gurran, N., Searle, G., Phibbs, P. (2018). Urban Planning in the Age of Airbnb: Coase, Property Rights, and Spatial Regulation. Urban Policy and Research, 36(4), 399-416. [More Information]
  • Hamanifard, Z., Alizadeh, T., Bosman, C. (2018). Towards a framework of public space governance. Cities, 78, 155-165. [More Information]
  • Harris, P., Kent, J., Sainsbury, P., Thow, A., Baum, F., Friel, S., McCue, P. (2018). Creating 'healthy built environment' legislation in Australia; a policy analysis. Health Promotion International, 33(6), 1090-1100. [More Information]
  • Harris, P., Riley, E., Sainsbury, P., Kent, J., Baum, F. (2018). Including health in environmental impact assessments of three mega transport projects in Sydney, Australia: A critical, institutional, analysis. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 68, 109-116. [More Information]
  • Iveson, K., Maalsen, S. (2018). Social control in the networked city: Datafied dividuals, disciplined individuals and powers of assembly. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space[More Information]
  • Kent, J., Harris, P., Sainsbury, P., Baum, F., McCue, P., Thompson, S. (2018). Influencing Urban Planning Policy: An Exploration from the Perspective of Public Health. Urban Policy and Research, 36(1), 20-34. [More Information]
  • Kent, J., Dowling, R. (2018). Commercial Car Sharing, Complaints and Coping: Does Sharing Need Willingness? Urban Policy and Research, 36(4), 464-475. [More Information]
  • Legacy, C., Rogers, D., Cook, N., Ruming, K. (2018). Beyond the post-political: is public participation in Australian cities at a turning point? Geographical Research, 56(4), 353-357. [More Information]
  • Legacy, C., Cook, N., Rogers, D., Ruming, K. (2018). Planning the Post-political City: Exploring Public Participation in the Contemporary Australian City. Geographical Research, 56(2), 176-180. [More Information]
  • McAuliffe, C., Rogers, D. (2018). Tracing resident antagonisms in urban development: agonistic pluralism and participatory planning. Geographical Research, 56(2), 219-229. [More Information]
  • Maalsen, S. (2018). 'Generation Share': digitalized geographies of shared housing ["Generation du partage": geographies numerisees du partage du logement] ['El compartir entre generaciones': geografias digitalizadas de viviendas compartidas]. Social and Cultural Geography, In Press. [More Information]
  • Maalsen, S., Mclean, J. (2018). Record collections as musical archives: Gender, record collecting, and whose music is heard. Journal of Material Culture, 23(1), 39-57. [More Information]
  • Maalsen, S., Burgoyne, S., Tomitsch, M. (2018). Smart-innovative cities and the innovation economy A qualitative analysis of local approaches to delivering smart urbanism in Australia. Journal of Design, Business & Society, 4(1), 63-82. [More Information]
  • Ma, L, Kent, J, & Mulley, C 2018, 'Transport disadvantage, social exclusion, and subjective wellbeing: The role of the neighborhood environment - evidence from Sydney, Australia',  Journal of Transport and Land Use, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 31-47.
  • Prior, J., Connon, I., McIntyre, E., Adams, J., Capon, A., Kent, J., Rissel, C., Thomas, L., Thompson, S., Westcott, H. (2018). Built environment interventions for human and planetary health: integrating health in climate change adaptation and mitigation. Public Health Research and Practice, 28(4), 1-5. [More Information]
  • Rogers, D. (2018). Assemblage theory and the ontological limitations of speculative realism. Dialogues in Human Geography, 8(2), 244-247. [More Information]
  • Rogers, D., Wiesel, I. (2018). Australian urban geographies of housing in the context of the rise of China in the "Asian Century". Geographical Research, 56(4), 393-400. [More Information]
  • Rogers, D., Nelson, J., Wong, A. (2018). Geographies of hyper-commodified housing: foreign capital, market activity, and housing stress. Geographical Research, 56(4), 434-446. [More Information]
  • Sarkar, S., Phibbs, P., Simpson, R., Wasnik, S. (2018). The scaling of income distribution in Australia: Possible relationships between urban allometry, city size, and economic inequality. Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science, 45(4), 603-622. [More Information]
Refereed book chapters
  • Alizadeh, T 2017, 'Planning Deficiencies and Telecommunication Infrastructure: A Multi-level Investigation of the National Broadband Network in Australia', D I S P, vol. 53, no. 3, pp. 43-57.
  • Alizadeh, T 2017, 'The role of telecommunication in post-petroleum planning: The tale of National Broadband Network in Australia', in J Dodson, N Sipe & A Nelson (eds), Planning After Petroleum: Preparing Cities for the Age Beyond Oil, Routledge, London.
  • Darcy, M & Rogers, D 2017, 'The Real "Housos": Reclaiming identity and place', in G Cairns, G Artopoulos & K Day (eds), From Conflict to Inclusion in Housing: Interaction of Communities, Residents and Activists, UCL Press, London.
  • Logan, C 2017, 'Open shut them: open classrooms in Australian schools, 1967-1983', in K Darian-Smith & J Willis (eds), Designing Schools: Space, place and pedagogy, Routledge, London and New York.
  • Maginn, P, Goodman, R, Gurran, N, & Ruming, K 2017, 'What's So Strategic about Australian Metropolitan Plans and Planning Reform? The Case of Melbourne, Perth and Sydney', in L Albrechts, A Balducci, & J Hillier (eds), Situated Practices of Strategic Planning: An international perspective, Routledge: Oxford.
  • Oh, S, Kent, J 2017, 'Retrofitting traditional streets for shared uses: The "pedestrian priority street" in Seoul', in C Mulley, K Gebel, D Ding (eds), Walking: Connecting Sustainable Transport with Health, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, UK.
  • Rogers, D 2017. 'Becoming a Super-Rich Foreign Real Estate Investor: Globalising Real Estate Data, Publications and Events', in R Forrest, S Y Koh, B Wissink (eds), Cities and the Super-Rich: Real Estate, Elite Practices and Urban Political Economies, Palgrave Macmillan, New York.
  • Wyver, S, Kent J, Tranter, P, Naughton, G, Engelen, L, Bundy, & A, Tara, K 2017,  'Urban environments and outdoor learning', in H Little, S Elliott and S Wyver (eds), Outdoor Learning Environments: Spaces for exploration, discovery and risk-taking in the early years, Allen and Unwin, Sydney.
Refereed journal articles