Urban Typologies Research Cluster

The Urban Typologies Research Cluster is focused on cross-disciplinary research pertaining to cultural landscapes, urban morphology, architectural history, heritage and urban design.

About Us

Established in 2010, the Urban Typologies Research Cluster is a research collective made up of Faculty academics, postgraduate students and associate members, who share interests in the history of the built environment. It includes members from the disciplines of architecture, interior architecture, landscape architecture and planning. Its primary, though not exclusive focus is metropolitan Sydney and the major typologies that have shaped its urban and suburban environment. The objectives of the cluster are to:

  • strengthen the research culture of the Faculty of Built Environment at UNSW Australia in relation to the arts and humanities
  • engage in a sustainable research program geared to HERDC and ERA-quality creative outputs, establish collaborations with external partners, including cultural institutions, government agencies and corporate and industrial concerns
  • develop a research-teaching nexus based on studio and undergraduate research projects around particular themes and urban types
  • encourage the involvement of the Faculty’s postgraduate community, by invitations to participate in the development of projects, and their outcomes
  • develop competitive applications for ARC and other grants for external funding support

The cluster aims to deliver outcomes in a diversity of media, including visual as well as textual forms of analysis, for example: exhibited research in the form of models, drawings and other visual representations, as well as monographs, catalogues, journal articles and conference papers.

The cluster’s first project was a study of the leisure-based buildings and urban spaces that appeared in Sydney during the ‘boom’ years of the 1950s and 1960s. Its following project was a study of the history and development of Martin Place in Sydney (see Projects & Publications page).



Peter Kohane
Telephone: +61 2 9385 6775
Email: p.kohane@unsw.edu.au

Academic Staff Members

Dijana Alić
Sing d’Arcy
Catherine Evans
Paola Favaro
Robert Freestone
John Gamble
Maryam Gusheh
Paul Hogben
Harry Margalit
Judith O’Callaghan
Katrina Simon

Associate Members

Michael Bogle
Sharryn Bowman
Hugo Chan
Shirley Daborn
Philip Drew 
Tracie Harvison
Sanaz Hosseinabadi
Pengfei Ma
Charles Pickett
Nicola Pullan
Mark Stiles

Research Programs and Projects

2014-2016: Martin Place

The cluster’s research and publication project involved studying the history and development of Martin Place in Sydney. Martin Place is undergoing significant change with the re-development of a number of buildings along the thoroughfare and the cluster’s research aims to contribute to the discussion of its past and present transformation. Contributing authors: Peter Kohane, Mark Stiles, Rob Freestone, Charles Pickett, Michael Bogle, Sing D’Arcy, Russell Rodrigo, Maryam Gusheh, Katrina Simon, Judith O’Callaghan, Paola Favaro, Harry Margalit, Paul Hogben, Dijana Alic, Shirley Daborn and Catherine Lassen.

2011-2014: Leisure Space: The Transformation of Sydney 1945-1970

From 2011-2013 the cluster undertook research into the spaces that were designed for leisure activity within Sydney during the post-war ‘boom’ years of the 1950s and 1960s. Over this period, leisure was looked upon an area ripe for investment and this gave birth to a wide array of spaces to facilitate and accommodate new social and consumer trends. The cluster looked at a range of privately-resourced leisure environments including hotels, motels, bars, restaurants, shopping centres and leagues clubs and how these environments contributed to the growth of Sydney as a modern cosmopolitan city. This project resulted in an edited book publication:

Paul Hogben and Judith O’Callaghan (eds), 2014, Leisure Space: The Transformation of Sydney 1945-1970, Sydney, NewSouth Publishing (www.newsouthbooks.com.au/books/leisure-space-transformation-Sydney). Contributing authors: Paul Hogben, Judith O’Callaghan, Russell Rodrigo, Sing D’Arcy, Michael Bogle, Shirley Daborn, Robert Freestone, Catherine Evans, Tracie Harvison, Harry Margalit, Dijana Alic, Maryam Gusheh and Catherine Lassen.

As recognition of its contribution to knowledge, Leisure Space was shortlisted for the 2015 NSW Premier’s History in the NSW Community and Regional History category. Judges’ comments:

Leisure Space: The Transformation of Sydney 1945–1970 is a collection of essays, mostly by architectural historians, showing how new structures transformed Sydney between 1945 and 1970. After discussing the cultural context — especially the impact of rising standards of living and new forms of leisure — it considers such elements as the transformation of tourist offices, motels, shopping centres and holiday houses. The contributors all show that the design and development of what are described as ‘leisure environments’ are closely connected to social, political, economic and technological history.

Engagingly written and presented, this book makes a significant addition to studies of Sydney’s post–Second World War history. Through its detailed attention to modernism’s role in physically altering the city’s landscape, it explains why by 1970 Sydney looked radically different in comparison with how it had appeared at the end of the war. The use of images interspersed through the text — including those by leading Sydney photographers such as Max Dupain — is highly effective.

Research for this project and the resultant book were generously supported by Faculty Research Grants and the City of Sydney’s History Publication Sponsorship Program.

Seminars & Conferences

As part of the development of its research projects, the cluster holds regular meetings as well as occasional seminars in which members present and discuss proposals, ideas and work-in-progress.


2017: Members of the group presented papers related to current research projects. Dr Paul Hogben set out an interpretation of the work of James Green. Another meeting was devoted to Dr Paola Favaro’s study of concrete in the architecture of Sydney.

2016: Author and historian, Dr Ian Hoskins, spoke about his research into Sydney Harbour and NSW coastline.  Ian's books include Sydney Harbour: A History and Coast: A history of the New South Wales Edge.

2015: The cluster played a major role in organising and hosting the 32nd Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand (SAHANZ). Held at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney 7-10 July 2015 and themed ‘Architecture, Institutions and Change’, the conference brought together 90 scholars from Australia, New Zealand, the UK and USA.

2014: In November, Professor Richard Johnson provided a presentation to the cluster on JPW's award-winning project on 50 Martin Place.

In December, the cluster held a two-day seminar on its Martin Place publication project. Faculty staff as well as a number of external experts were invited to hear and respond to the presentations of members on the progress of their research and their proposed chapters.

2012: In February, the cluster held a day-long seminar to discuss the Leisure Space project. Professor Philip Goad (University of Melbourne) and Professor Peter Spearritt (University of Queensland) were invited participants. They provided constructive comment on the project as a whole as well as the presentations given by cluster members on their research to date.

In December, Associate Professor Richard White (University of Sydney), author of On Holidays: A History of Getting Away in Australia (2005), provided a presentation to the cluster on his research into the history of leisure in Australia.

The cluster also held a two-day workshop in December, where members presented draft versions of their chapters for the Leisure Space book. Faculty staff and external experts were invited to provide constructive feedback.

Contact Us

Peter Kohane
Telephone: +61 2 9385 6775
Email: p.kohane@unsw.edu.au