A new website is currently under development, for now this page has the essentials

Coming Events

  • 16 February 2021: Symposium Building for zero carbon by 2050 Wellington information and registration
  • 22-23 February 2021: Urban Future Conference, Rethinking the way we build cities to enhance the quality of life for communities Auckland information and registration
  • 23 February 2021: Heritage, Place and Identity Conference, Interweaving heritage and culture within future planning and development Auckland information and registration
  • (note: Heritage, Place and Identity Conference and Urban Futures Conference are co-located. Delegates attending Heritage, Place and Indentity Conference may also attend sessions on Day 2 of the Urban Futures Conference.)
  • 18-19 March 2021: The Annual 2021 Land Development Engineering Forum, Dealing with Disruption Christchurch information and registration
  • 21-22 May 2021: Neighbourhood Watch International Conference Queensland, Australia information and registration

Latest Posts

  • 7 March 2021 Entries close for Future Thinker of the Year 2021. If a green, sustainable building environment is your thing, read on and get involved
    Entry information
  • Te Pokapū Whakatairanga Tikanga Māori: Māori Design Hub The final part of the 2020 refresh is the inclusion of current links to a range of Māori design and Māori housing research, providers, policies and toolkits. This information has been assembled to assist users of the MDH in their exploration of a Māori design kaupapa for Tāmaki Makaurau
    visit the Auckland Design Manual for more information
  • Call for abstracts closing 26 March 2021 for a special issue for the Journal of Urbanism ‘The Design of the Public Realm: Emerging Theories and Practices' more information
  • Untangling the web of priorities, strategies, outcomes, values, hopes, and dreams: An overview of our Auckland City Centre Masterplan (CCMP) By Boopsie Maran - Places for Good From the Special Event to the Digital Masterplan, we've broken it down for you here

About Urban Design Forum


Promoting urban design excellence across New Zealand.



The purpose of the UDF is to:

• Promote cross-disciplinary understanding of urban design and collaboration amongst built environment professionals;

• Raise awareness and appreciation of the benefits of urban design at both national and local levels;  

• Advocate for and influence good quality urban design outcomes and best practice in urban design;

• Provide a forum for discussion of design-based approaches that are relevant to the development and management of New Zealand towns and cities.



Urban Design is the process of arranging and influencing the design of the components that make up our urban environment, with the objective of creating quality urban places. This applies in 3-dimensions and across a range of scales from the city / region down to small individual development sites.

By quality urban places, this means making places that:

• Feel safer
• Encourage healthier lifestyles
• Are more culturally relevant, promote social and community interaction and are more equitable
• Are more sustainable and enduring
• Are more economically prosperous
• Are easier to move around by a range of forms of transport including walking
• Are more enjoyable to spend time in, and are more attractive to live in, to work in, to visit and to invest in.

The UDF recognises that creating great quality urban places also depends on a range of other aspects including politics and law-making including financial policies; development economics; social, community and cultural issues; policing; and traffic management to name but a few. The field of urban design can’t attempt to resolve all these issues. But where it can help is in the physical arrangement of the components that make up our built environments.

The UDF therefore believe that urban design is the skilled process of influencing and arranging these urban components. It is recognised that the primary design responsibility for these components lies with design specialists including architects, landscape architects, engineers etc. In this regard, good urban design is achieved by all built environment professionals working together to achieve common urban design goals and the skill of the urban designer in many cases is to help other specialist designers to work together and see the wider urban design outcomes.

The UDF believes that there are professional urban designers – specialists practising urban design who have been trained to fully understand the art of arranging the elements of the built environment to get the best possible urban design outcomes.

There are also related design specialists whose primary role is to design the individual urban components (such as buildings, spaces and streets) but in doing so are trying to achieve wider urban design outcomes.

The UDF aims to promote cross disciplinary understanding of urban design and represent both specialist urban designers as well as those with other primary specialisms who are determined to achieve good urban design outcomes. 

Over the next three years, the UDF aims to achieve its purpose through a series of actions around the following:

Purpose: to support the community in their understanding of urban design and urban issues

Continue to update the UDF website and other media platforms with articles, information and other relevant links
Identify and share scholarship and intern opportunities
Sharing of the good news stories

Branding and marketing
Purpose: to raise the profile of and mandate for the UDF and its members

Raise social media profile and develop a media plan for engagement
Establish media contacts, provide regular updates on urban issues and media releases
Identify high profile conduits for messaging with identified spokespeople

Events and partnering
Purpose: To build collaborative and influential relationships and share knowledge and increase membership base

To continue supporting a national urban design conference (on a biennial basis)
To host branch events including both members only and open entry on a quarterly basis
Identify key alliances and collaboration opportunities at national and local level including NZPI, NZILA, NZIA, Property Council, Women in Urbanism, NZIS and Nga Aho. 
Investigate the idea of re-introducing a national Urban Design Award programme to recognise and reward outstanding urban design practice around the country.

Recognised practitioner
Purpose: To recognise and support those people who are trained and are practicing experts in the field of urban design

Develop a process for achieving “recognised practitioner” status
Develop an agreed approach to urban design assessment 

Purpose: Proactively raising urban design issues of national or local significance
Advocacy focus areas:

Pro-active lobbying, particularly to central government on key UD issues of national significance including the provision of national urban design advice and the creation of urban development authorities
Responding formally on behalf of the urban design community to key topics, issues, policies and other major proposals 

Background and Membership

The New Zealand Urban Design Forum was first created in 2005 as a collaboration between the planning, landscape, architecture, engineering and surveying Institutes. 

The UDF became independent and an incorporated society on 17th September 2014 but still has strong associations and partnerships with those institutes.

The UDF is modelled on similar groups in Australia and England.

Membership is open to anyone who is interested in urban design and cares about the quality of the built environment and life in our towns and cities and wants to help raise the standards of urban design across the country. The UDF encourages membership from anyone interested in urban design and including planners, architects, landscape architects, engineers, surveyors, politicians, academics, developers and other individuals.

Apply for Membership  $42.50 to 31 March 2021. Student Membership free.

Being a member of the UDF means:

  • Membership rates at Conference
  • receive notices about events and activities across the sector.
  • share in event/networking sessions
  • opportunity to contribute/comment on UDF blog posts; and
  • help to sustain the on-going expansion of the UDF’s work.
The National Committee’s strategy is to advocate and lobby in order to raise awareness of the benefits of good urban design at both national and local levels.

National Committee Members

The organisation is overseen by an elected National Committee who provide their service on a voluntary basis.

  • Alistair Ray - Auckland, Co-Chair
  • Lisa Mein - Auckland, Co-Chair
  • Ellie Craft - Auckland, Honorary Secretary
  • Ben van Bruggen - Auckland, Treasurer
  • Boyd Barber - Auckland
  • Yu-Ning Liu - Auckland
  • William Hatton - Auckland
  • Jos Coolen - Wellington
  • Ekin Sakin - Christchurch
  • Tim Church - Queenstown

UDF is managed part-time by Melanie Whittaker manager@urbandesignforum.org.nz