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Civic innovation: regional universities as transformative partners

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-23, 11:53 authored by Helen NorrieHelen Norrie, Holcombe-James, E
Universities have an intrinsic relationship to cities, not merely as educational institutions, but also through contributing to social and cultural life in myriads ways. This is particularly important in regional communities, where the university is frequently both a major employer and a key population catalyst, attracting students and staff as residents both short and long term. Beyond the focus on service delivery, the development of university campuses in regional areas offers opportunities to consider how the university can engage with the community, and become a key ‘civic player’ in regional development.

Planning for the future development of new facilities for regional universities offers opportunities to strengthen the town and gown relationship beyond service delivery and the annual graduation parade, and to explore how the university can become physically embedded in place. Examining the conceptual positioning of the university as part of the future urban narrative, beyond the mere occupation of sites, is key to this process. Developing processes of engagement between the university and the city to reimagine collaborative economic, social and spatial relationships involves thinking laterally about ways the university can develop as an intrinsic and complementary part of the city.

Recognising the importance of engagement between faculty and administration is central to this process, prompting new process of strategic design thinking that transform traditional project development and procurement practices. Diverse design research practices which are constantly evolving can provide ways of imagining new urban narratives that embrace alternative social and spatial futures for the university. This highlights opportunities to consider the potential for the institution to be come a key part of the urban infrastructure, dissolving the inevitable and inherent boundaries between the institution and the city to foster opportunities for interactive civic engagement.


Publication title

Proceedings of the AASA 2016 9th International Conference Project to Practice: Innovating Architecture




School of Architecture and Design


University of Technology Sydney

Place of publication

University of Technology Sydney

Event title

Project to Practice: Innovating Architecture AASA 9th International Conference 2016

Event Venue


Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


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Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in built environment and design

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