Urban Design Forum and the new Urban Designers Institute Aotearoa

Urban Design Forum (UDF) celebrates its 21st anniversary this year. It was initially formed by a small group of built environment professionals keen to exchange ideas and strive for better quality in our urban environments. In 2003 UDF organised the first Urbanism Downunder conference here in Tamaki Makaurau and tapped into the growing interest in urban design amongst built environment professionals here in Aotearoa New Zealand, leading to the development of the Urban Design Protocol and ultimately the launching of the Master of Urban Design degree at the University of Auckland in 2005. Importantly UDF has had, and continues to have, a significant and ongoing role in solidifying “urban design” in the New Zealand lexicon and contributing to the collective conversation of creating better urban environments.

From its modest beginnings in 2002 as an informal network of a handful of urban design enthusiasts, through to its five-year tenure as a special interest group of Te Kokiringa Taumata the New Zealand Planning Institute, and since 2012 as an independent incorporated society with its own constitution, UDF has stayed true to its goal of serving as an umbrella organisation representing a broadchurch of built environment professionals with an interest in nurturing better urban environments for all people.

For several years UDF has been very transparent in its view there are professional urban designers and has promoted a goal of recognising and supporting those who are trained and practising experts in the field of urban design through some form of urban design certification or recognised practitioner status. In tandem with this aspiration and following increasing challenges to the reliability of urban design experts in Environment Court, a group of 8 urban designers, all members of UDF and including 5 current or past committee members, galvanised into action in late 2021 to consider how best to establish an accreditation process for urban designers.

The Urban Designers Institute Aotearoa (UDIA) is being established as an independent organisation to UDF to recognise and support urban design as a profession in Aotearoa/New Zealand by providing a registration system for urban design experts with requisite education, skills and experience. UDIA had a soft launch at the Urbanism NZ conference and the aim is for it to be formally incorporated towards the end of 2023. The aims of UDIA are to establish consistent and transparent proficiency expectations for urban design experts as they operate within our statutory system by adhering to a code of ethics and practice and associated professional standards. It will ultimately provide a facility for continuing education/ professional development and an opportunity for mentoring urban designers.

Importantly UDIA does not seek to take ownership of general or wider built environment debate amongst and between members of the community and to that end UDF remains a very relevant and important melting pot for cross-industry dialogue, debate and advocacy for quality built environments at all levels of government.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top