Greening the Pipeline

Following an extensive stakeholder and consultation program Realm Studios, along with Supermass Studio and Alluvium Consulting, have now completed the Zone 5 Greening the Pipeline Master Plan for Wyndham City Council and Melbourne Water . The project is significant to western Melbourne, celebrating Indigenous heritage, colonial heritage and the greening in the west. It proposes storage and reuse of stormwater as part of repurposing the MOS artefact and the planting of a 15,000 tree urban forest along with 100,000m2 of meadow grasslands to build on the ecologies of Melbourne’s Western Plain Grasslands.


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REALMstudios in Perth relocates

The Perth REALMstudios team is excited to relocate into its new studio space in the heart of the city. Occupying a second floor space in the heritage-rich Commonwealth Bank Building on the Murray Street Mall.

REALMstudios continues to strengthen with some exciting projects including; Greater Curtin Stage One, Raine Square Plaza and Laneway, New Inner City College, SwanCare Leisure Precinct and many more.

We are also looking for a talented senior Landscape Architect to join the Perth team.

Exciting times ahead.

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European Study Tour – REALM Research


As an extension to the work that REALMstudios is undertaking with Alluvium for Melbourne Water’s Channel Naturalization Program – the key objectives of integrating livability and environmental outcomes with their assets to create healthy places and people – Tamara Obradovic, Senior Landscape Architect and Urban Designer from REALMstudios Sydney carried out a study tour of a number of recently completed channel restructuring and water management projects across Europe.

The projects ranged from; an award winning renaturation of the river Aire in the rural outskirts of Geneva, to a WSUD driven eco-neighborhood in Nantes, to a closed loop flood mitigation system integrated into an urban plaza in Freiburg and the daylighting of an ancient stream hidden beneath a carpark in the center of Sheffield.

All 4 projects are driven by the fundamental objectives of promoting resilience and livability by regaining nature as well as revealing history of place.  Each project is able to create a new site program which creates places for people underpinned by ecological principles and a deep appreciation of the evolution of place and landscape as process.

By creating moments  for engaging and interacting with the water in different ways these renaturation projects  allow us to gain a deeper understanding of water systems and ways in which they can:


  • Help to build resilience
  • Successfully be integrated into the urban fabric
  • Inspire contemporary WSUD typologies
  • Support local ecologies and restore biological functions
  • Provide a setting for a diverse range of activities/ experiences for people
  • Contribute to place making/ community building
  • Strengthen human connection to nature
  • Integrate with existing land uses
  • Combine with other sustainable technologies – renewables – to support self-sufficiency of an entire neighbourhood
  • Reveal a deeper understanding of the geology, geography of an area
  • Influence/ reveal the historic evolution of place
  • Become outdoor testing laboratories
  • Contribute to an evolving landscape


1. The Renaturation of the River Aire (2015) frees the river from its linear constraints and allows it to flow through a newly formed and broadened river bed adjacent to the original canal. The formation of the river bed, inspired by the study of historical traces of ancient meanders of the Aire river, aims to create greater morphological and ecological diversity through an established pattern which accelerates the process of erosion and shaping of the new stream and associated natural habitat. In this way, the project becomes an open air laboratory through careful monitoring of the evolution of the river system and the continuous interplay between the flow of the river and the prepared terrain.


Photo:, 2015 (at installation)


Photo:  REALMstudios, 2017

By reducing the hydrological functions of the original canal, the canal now takes on a new function as a rural parkland consisting of a linear sequence of differentiated places and spaces carefully balancing engineering, nature and public amenity.  Introducing topography further reinforces a distinct hierarchy of pathway systems that create a considered distribution of people, movements, and site program.


Photo:  REALMstudios, 2017


Photo:  REALMstudios, 2017


2. The Bottiere-Cheai Eco-District in Nantes, 2015 , is able to draw from its unique geology which created underground water stores and a significant market garden history, to create a new organizational typology which allows an uncovered brook to become the heart and collection point for a new neighbourhood and ensures historic and cultural continuity by keeping the framework of parcels from past agricultural occupation.  It provides a careful distribution of community facilities, market gardens, open space areas and medium density living around a comprehensive WSUD program which seamlessly integrates into the urban fabric in the form of raingardens and detention basins.

The landscape takes precedence becoming a continuous system above which float the physical connectors, a comprehensive network of pedestrian pathways ensuring permeability and connectivity through the whole neighborhood. The project further promotes sustainable practices through rainwater collection and harvesting wind energy for water provision for the allotments.


Photo:  REALMstudios, 2017

Whilst the project has been successful in achieving positive ecological and social outcomes, the continuously evolving nature of these types of projects poses questions for long term performance with regards to both public amenity and ecology.

For example, when nutrient levels in the waterway are high then maintenance becomes an issue.  Stream vegetation can become a deterrent and obstruction.   Over the course of a couple of years the brook has largely become overgrown, limiting access to the water edge in areas, raising issues of safety and access to sunlight along the stream edge.


Photo:, 2015 (at installation)


Photo:  REALMstudios, 2017

There is also a noted absence of trees in the project, especially in the streetscape.  Whilst understorey plantings support bio-filtration processes and provide greening, trees are essential to maintaining human comfort and responding to climate change, particularly in harsh urban environments.


Photo:  REALMstudios, 2017


3. The Zolhallen Plaza in Freiburg (2010), provides a closed loop flood mitigation system, disconnected from the formal collection system, which supports infiltration, storage, and ground water recharge whilst creating a useable public space.  Blurring the boundaries between the built and the natural it cleverly integrates historical features/forms and materials to create subtle level changes and division of space and planted zones.  The resultant plates accommodate a variety of experiences including a series of intimate seating areas and a large plaza space for community gathering and events.


Photo:  REALMstudios, 2017


Photo:  REALMstudios, 2017


The plaza has, however, suffered substantial plant loss over the years.   In harsh urban environments, appropriate plant selection is critical to ensuring performance over time with particular consideration to fluctuating seasons/rainfalls and climate change.


Photo:, 2010  (at installation)


Photo:  REALMstudios, 2017


4. The Porter Brook Pocket Park (2016), in the centre of Sheffiled is a fine example of how a small project can be a catalyst for urban regeneration and environmental improvement.  Located in the heart of Sheffield’s industrial zone, a small stretch of the River Porter which has previously been hidden in a culvert buried beneath a carpark has been revealed and naturalized through a specific habitat creation scheme for trout.  A small ampitheatre has been created to provide a small riverside park, a green oasis in the centre of Sheffiled, which both aids with flood mitigation and becomes the first section of riverside walk as part of a broader strategy for reconnecting the city with its waterways.


Photo:  REALMstudios, 2017

There is, however, already evidence of weed infestation in the stream.  Once again it becomes clear that maintenance is a critical success factor for renaturation projects such as these (especially in urban environments) and if left can limit the biological functions of the waterways.





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Safeguarding Community Delight:

The prospect of significant open space being delivered alongside public transport infrastructure is very real. This is the case for the new part elevated rail from Cranbourne to Packenham and its associated 24 km linear park. The project is rejoining communities, providing new community focussed amenity and reconnecting broader natural systems. In the process it is creating a deep sense of community ownership and delight. This is a very exciting prospect.

Jon Shinkfield sits on the Community Open Space Expert Panel for the Office of the Victorian Government’s Victorian Design Review Panel.

For more information visit:

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Design WA – How to retain existing trees on development lots


Existing trees and their precious canopies are being cut down across Perth development sites at an alarming rate. Street and park trees in the public realm are comparatively easy to protect, but how can we protect trees on private lots in order to secure their well-documented benefits for future generations? And equally, how do we provide certainty to developers and not onerously increase development costs? This is a real challenge.

Damien Pericles (Founding Director at REALMstudios) has been working with Western Australia’s Department of Planning on the recently released Apartment Design Policy which will replace (in part) existing R-Codes. The policy is part of Design WA (formerly the ‘Planning Reform for Better Design’ project).

One of the key chapters of the policy is titled ‘Existing Tree Retention’ and is put forward as an important and early site planning consideration. Together with other related chapters (like Deep Soil Zones) this chapter aims to raise awareness and shift community and developer values. Tree retention involves careful analysis, planning, due diligence and resolution of technical issues. Four key innovations come through in the policy:

Five Year Rule

The first innovative approach is what defines an existing tree and the ‘five year rule’. “Existing trees” includes those physically on-site and those that have been removed but are clearly identified on an aerial photo within the last 5 years. This aims to address clearing by owners/developers long before lodging of a development application.

Deep Soil Zone Incentive
The second innovative approach utilises a built-in incentive relating to Deep Soil Zones. In a related chapter Deep Soil Zones set objectives and minimum guidelines for provision of soil area not covered by building or structure and that supports healthy plant and tree growth. The incentive allows a variation of 12% Deep Soil Zone down to 8% when existing trees are retained.

Tree Replacement Offset
The third innovative approach uses an offset mechanism. Where a tree is unable to be retained, then a cost is to be paid for the planting of 4 additional trees per tree not retained within the immediate project vicinity (but outside the development site). The cost per tree of supply, installation, irrigation and maintenance for 2 years of a 100Lt native tree is to be determined by and paid to the local authority.

Minimum landscape areas
The fourth initiative applies in high density areas where built form maximizes all or most of the site area and deep soil zones cannot be achieved. In this instance a minimum of 25% site area is to be planting on structure.

These and other initiatives in the Apartment Design Policy will set new standards of practice and improve the amenity and liveability for residents living in apartments.

Further information of the full draft suite of documents can be found at Design WA.

Apartment Design Policy Cover

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Last chance to have your say on the K2K Urban Design Competition coincides with Realm Studios Sydney studio launch

REALMstudios has launched its new shared studio space in Surry Hills Sydney, home to our growing NSW team and city making and liveability project base.

This month we will be celebrating the launch of the shared studio space by opening it up to friends of the practice and Damien giving a preview presentation of our CODA team’s K2K Competition Entry……see link for a sneak preview.

We invite you to this event which will be accompanied with drinks and canapés, and if you would like to be part of this then please email Tamara at We would be delighted to see you there.

The launch marks another milestone for REALMstudios having; a growing portfolio of work across the research, public and private sectors, policy and design guidance, and a growing and passionate team who are dedicated to the idea of better places and better cities through design. Our new Sydney studio represents that growth.

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CODA and REALMstudios shortlisted for K2K Competition


We are privileged to be shortlisted for the K2K Competition in Sydney as part of the CODA Architecture + Urban Design team. Four teams have been shortlisted: CODA, JMD, Aspect and JBA to respond with a vision for the future of Kensington and Kingsford Town Centres in Randwick.

Sydney is experiencing significant change and the City of Randwick is too. The new light rail together with forecast growth in housing and jobs means that Council and the community need to take control of shaping the future.

Each team will now respond to a well-coordinated brief developed by Randwick Council and the community and provide their ideas for a vibrant, sustainable and liveable future for Kensington and Kingsford.

Further information can be found at

City Making + Liveability through a design lens.

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Curtin University Stepped Learning Space

A brand new gathering space south of the Curtin library has become an inviting stepped learning space. The REALMstudios’ design opens-up the concealed library entry by pulling back an existing retaining wall that had previously constricted movement and sight lines. A series of comfortable seating terraces for social gathering and with attractive views over Henderson Court are also established.


Working closely with the heritage material palette of the library (red brick and concrete) the project achieves both a strong connection to and sympathy with the library building whilst also being innovative and unique in its radial layout and design detailing – proving that you can respect heritage and activate simultaneously.


Existing trees are retained and new ones planted within decking to provide a green and cool place to sit and study or catch up with colleagues and friends. The space has been an instant success



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Geraldton Botanic Gardens; Bringing Community and Tourists Together to Celebrate the Regions Flora.

Through an ambitious and community-driven process REALMstudios, in partnership with Vigilante Landscape Architecture, has developed a visionary plan for the Friends of Greater Geraldton (FroGGs) community group and their concept for a Geraldton based Botanic Garden celebrating the regions botanical heritage.


The combined botanic and community garden model is envisaged as a place for engaging with the wonders of Western Australia’s Mid-West region and as a tourism gateway for the nationally recognised wildflower trail. An educational agenda is also central to the project.Concept Diagramsx4_FOR WEB

Concept Diagrams whole _FOR WEB


The spatial qualities of the garden build from 4 key organisational elements distilled from landscapes of the region and applied to Maitland Park, being: salt pans, drainage patterns, cadastral boundaries/road lines, and geological uplift. The master plan develops a staging and costing rationale to guide the development and evolution of the gardens in the coming years.


Important to the success of this project is community engagement, participation and support. FroGGs continue their broad-based discussions, input and feedback with a variety of stakeholders and are now in consultation with the City of Greater Geraldton to make this a reality.

The project is a magnificent opportunity for Geraldton in terms of community and economic development, education and urban activation.

For more information or to become a member of FroGG’s: email:

To download the Promotional Flyer click here

Or visit FroGGs on Facebook click here

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Light Rail – a value proposition for Newcastle

Newcastle is being recognised as an increasingly desirable city with its quality lifestyle and amenity and improved rail connectivity to Sydney. The city continues to be defined by opportunity: the closure and removal of the divisive heavy rail line, and now by the introduction of light rail. Questions are being raised around the most effective spend of light rail money to maximise uplift, increase amenity and to strategically locate the line to enhance remaking of the port city.

REALMstudios has been working with the City of Newcastle to help realise this value, building on a long association with the city through former work on the Honeysuckle Foreshore Redevelopment and now this Newcastle envisioning work.


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University : City

In the competitive space of knowledge and education ‘city-making’ and ‘liveability’ are increasingly central to university identity and success.

The university campus is functioning  as a new city place, as a new ecology, where an inter-relational cause and effect is driving the need for;

  • clarity and legibility in spatial frameworks,
  • universally accessible movement patterns,
  • place creation, identity and comfort,
  • integrative water catchment, expression and management,
  • management of urban heat and urban coolth, and
  • material presence and longevity.

Our recent, current and completed work at Murdoch and Curtin Universities expresses these values as the new city and undergirds our recent appointment at Monash University’s Clayton Campus: a new seven and half hectare campus entry project, the Southern Landscape Precinct. Along with University stakeholders, design partners McGregor Coxall, and collaborators E2 Design Lab and Paul Thompson we will be interrogating the project as a new educational ecology, considering;

  • the gesture, requirements, functions and values of place,
  • the deep and important layers of indigenous learnings through the School of Indigenous Studies, and
  • the most current research outcomes in urban water through engagement with the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities at Monash.

The project includes new transport interchange, places of arrival, teaching spaces designed by John Wardle Architects, and the redevelopment of the Alexander Theatre by Peter Elliot Architects.

Plna image

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Kunshan Studio Project 2

REALMstudios continues its engagement with Universities through Monash University’s Masters of Architecture Program and the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities.

Now in its second year, and following on from Project 1 in 2014, the second Kunshan Studio project was a demonstration project exploring the potential for new urban typologies and sustainability systems in the emerging City of Kunshan, this time as part of China’s Sponge City Initiative. The focus of The Studio was to deliver a site-based response to integrated water management through urban and architectural design that could play a broader strategic role in the City’s plan. It aimed to deliver a new civic, market and park precinct, connecting the existing urban fabric of the city to its cultural heritage and broader ecological framework and at the same time build the foundations for a city-wide water cleansing system.

An important exploration for The Studio was the water transport and polder system which characterizes the region. Historically established to reclaim and divide land for agricultural use the system uses a network of canals, gates and pumps to manage localized water of the Yangtze River Delta. Importantly, local canals manage water levels and city effluent in a controlled manner whilst connecting canals provide transportation links between polders and to the broader region. With this in mind The Studio proposal explored the adaptation of the existing polder and canal system as an opportunity to provide:

  • clean water to the polder community,
  • improved health,
  • improved urban microclimate,
  • improved connectivity and urban amenity,
  • related damage,
  • reduced infrastructure costs, and
  • improved well being

The Studio was lead by Markus Jung, Senior Lecturer MADA and director XPACE architecture + urban design, Maud Cassaignau, MADA Lecturer and director XPACE architecture + urban design, and Jon Shinkfield, director of REALMstudios.Kunshan-Studio-Booklet-p11_for-web

Kunshan-Studio-Booklet-p14_for-web Kunshan-Studio-Booklet-p17_for-web


The outcome of the studio can be seen on

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Station Square at Batavia Coast Marina – Awarding of Public Art Contracts

Integrated art and creative endeavour are central to our design process and to formalising places for people. In this context REALMstudios has been working with Landcorp and the City of Greater Geraldton in developing a guiding Public Art Strategy and management of an artist procurement process for the new mixed use development; ‘Station Square’ at Batavia Coast Marina, Geraldton.

The project proposes a new urban square and wetland as central city making elements within the new mixed-use precinct. Both spaces will feature integrated public artworks to contribute to the areas’ place-based liveability.

Following an RFT and panel review, two artists have been selected. We would like to congratulate Rose Holdaway from Geraldton and Tim Macfarlane Reid from Perth on their respective awarding/commissioning. We look forward to working with them through a collaborative process and delivering exciting integrated public art outcomes for Station Square at Batavia Coast Marina.

Welcome to REALMstudios  -  View Projects

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REALMstudios Directors advocate for better design through State and Local Government Advisory Roles

Founding Directors Damien Pericles and Jon Shinkfield continue to advocate for better integrated design in liveability and city making solutions through their involvement in a number of advisory panels and engagements.

Damien has an ongoing position on the Town of Vincent Design Advisory Committee (DAC) and has recently been engaged by the Department of Planning (DoP) as a ‘Theme Leader’ as part of their ‘Planning Reform for Better Design’ project.

Jon continues in his role on the Mornington Design Advisory Panel (DAP) and on the Office of the Victorian Government Architect’s Victorian Design Review Panel (VDRP) and more recently on the Gateway Review Panel for Infrastructure NSW.

‘We see our role as central to the making of better cities and liveable places: legible, socially strong and engaging places.’

150820_Town-Square_Perspective_FOR-WEB 150819_School_Perspective_V2_FOR-WEB Plummer-St_-Perspective-_Wet_V6_for-web

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REALMstudios celebrates 2 years of practice

In 2 years REALMstudios has grown a team of 11 and produced a portfolio of projects that reach directly into the intersection of urban design, landscape architecture and graphic legibility. We have evolved conversations around city making + liveability in professional, institutional, educational and cultural circles. We continue to engage with universities and purposefully embed research in our projects. Our work is grounded in an appreciation of site, context and people and displays legible design outcomes; the narrative, the diagram and the idea. Across Australia we are excited by a design dialogue with a range of Government and Industry sectors. Our progress is testament to the strength of our team and collective intent. We thank them together with our client and consultant collaborators and look forward to growing and strengthening our research and practice endeavours in the coming years.


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It’s about how we see things… which lens are we looking through?

Iconographic reincarnation is one thing (ARM’s William Barak building) but more critically it is the ‘landscape’ of Country that has been lost to us in the city and which best informs us in future proofing our cities.

We know a little but not a lot about the landscape canvas and its systems as we cloak Country with city, unwittingly covering its pores and lungs as our urban construct is becoming increasingly hot, devoid of water, blocked arterially and lacking in green; lacking in processes, culture and the ‘place’ of Country that, being so well understood by Indigenous Australians, can reinform our prospects for liveability in the city. Clean water, streams with fish and eels and green cool places of resilience and life are aspects of Country that the Aborigines managed so well over a very long period, yet we have destroyed and actively worked against it through a very recent history of engineered disappointment and loss and the hapless attitude of ‘We can do it regardless’. Our liveability is threatened yet can be reinformed through a renewed understanding of Country, engaging with the issues of the land, and who better to be working with than its custodians and managers through time.

We have been greatly inspired by the Wurundjeri’s Uncle Bill, by his passion for things Wurundjeri and Indigenous Cultural Landscapes, and in hearing his plea for engagement at the very early stages of design, before design.

It is in this context that we have been provoked to seek deeper engagement, to imagine and dream about new places of remembering, layering new and yet-to-be-formed memories over old, remembering the lost and in doing so framing a future. This is not a nostalgic view but one that is fully loaded with the systems of the city, with resonance and survival. We know a little but not a lot, of the forms and flows, the interrelationships and the stories, yet we need to know much more and to learn, to reclaim, to rediscover and reinterpret.

In our work we are seeking a new conversation about place and the city, outside of a conventional approvals or conservation posture but rather a dialogue with the indigenous as part of a new connection to Country and for the new to embrace and reinterpret the old. For us this is the beginning a journey, when there is nothing fixed, at the beginning of a story. Our hope is that it isn’t trivialised as an interpretive trail, a series of signs or an educational piece but we are contemplating a genuine conversation with a sensitivity to what has been lost and to create a platform of opportunity to reclaim some of that loss in new city making work. 

We, out of respect, out of a place of ignorance, out of a need to unblock the choked arteries of the city, need to re-engage with the custodians of this land. Their stories and insights are rich and deep. We need to re-engage.


Yarra pattern

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REALMstudios Wins Murray Street Hotel & Apartment Towers Competition

In a narrative from history and horticulture, REALMstudios developed a competition winning design for the Fragrance Group hotel and apartment towers development on Murray Street, Perth. The history of the site goes back to Mr Barrett, a convict come entrepreneur nurseryman who built a large nursery that supplied early settlement. Shafto Lane was previously called Barrett Lane, named after the nurseryman. Our scheme interprets a ground plane grid typology from modern production nurseries to inform pavements patterns. On the ground we explore scaled-up feature terrariums with integrated seating as sculptural forms that reference original green houses on site. These provide an elegant solution through integration of concrete, steel, glass, timber and low light plant material. These concepts pervade the public realm at ground floor and numerous semi-private roof gardens throughout both towers.


Murrary-St-Promo-Plan_for-web  Murrary-St-Promo-Section_for-webView across plaza T03 and 04

View from Foothpath2

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Perth Studio Relocation

The growing REALMstudios’ Perth team has moved to a new studio in bustling Northbridge. This brings synchronicities to our practice through shared workspace with Architectural, Structural, Mechanical Engineering, Project Management and Graphic Design companies all under the one roof. The team has already been collaborating on new ‘City Making + Liveability’ projects with like-minded companies at 123 Aberdeen St.  Our new number is (08) 9227 7222 if you want to get in touch.


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Meaningful Primary School Playgrounds

The school playground or campus is transforming beyond the boundaries of traditional ‘play’ to become a place that builds local narratives, values, and a sense of belonging. Increasingly it is also becoming an extension of the classroom, a place for students to develop socially and cognitively and a place of neighbourhood activation outside school hours.We understand these places in liveability terms; creating shade and shelter in which to congregate and share stories and ideas.

Creating meaningful places, through both the design process and built outcome has been the objective for two exciting community projects at Mount Hawthorn and Highgate Primary Schools, both in Perth’s inner city suburbs.

The two projects are examples of ‘bottom up’ making of place where students have driven the central ideas and design brief. Further to this, students have and will deliver artwork for inclusion in the built outcomes through coordination with respective art teachers.

Both projects have served to rally teachers, P&C and students alike towards a common goal, sense of achievement and community expression.

Stage one of the Mt. Hawthorn Primary School ‘Friendship Garden’ is complete and stage two is about to commence. Highgate Primary School ‘Senior Terrace’ is about to go out to tender.

We are inspired that in our recent discussions with the Victorian Deputy Premier, James Merlino MP (Victorian Minster for Education) our view was confirmed – that places of learning are beyond the walls of architecture and that through clear and intentional involvement we can achieve a better and highly integrated outcome, where the spatial dialogue of play goes way beyond the ‘playground’ and where the divisions of discipline are removed.

Senior Terrace –

Welcome to REALMstudios  -  View Projects


The Friendship Garden stage one –


Mt-Hawthorn-Stage-1-Phot0 cropped  Humpy-Sectiontree-planting-frenship-garden  2015-05-02-10.38.11




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New Studio for REALMstudios in Melbourne

REALMstudios launches into its new Melbourne studio space in the heart of the city, Flinders Lane. Home to our growing practice of 4 staff in Melbourne. Combined, REALMstudios has a team of 8 and our portfolio of work continues to grow and consolidate with projects framed around ‘City Making + Liveability’.

Flinders Lane Office - 1 Flinders Lane Office-2

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Guildford Heritage Precinct Master Plan

Damien Pericles and Michael Memeo recently attended an initial on-site community consultation event for the Guildford Heritage Precinct Master Plan. REALMstudios have been working with a multi-talented consultant team for the City of Swan in delivery of a series of master plan options that will establish a long term plan for the use and care of heritage features and spaces associated with Meadow Street in Guildford.


Concept Diagram

Damien Pericles

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Kunshan Studio

Jon Shinkfield co-lead the Masters of Architecture Design Studio with Markus Jung from MADA (Monash University).

The Kunshan Studio was a real time project examining new urban typologies and form for the emerging city of Kunshan in China.

The focus of this urbanism studio was a city precinct 4 times the size of Melbourne’s Hoddle Grid and closely associated with the existing high-speed train station and the adjacent developing city quarter. Through the consideration of new urban form and typologies the project sought an integrated development transect through urban agriculture, urban ecology and the city core.

An important exploration for the studio was the historical, cultural and physical condition of Kunshan. The city’s low-lying, regularly inundated topography is the site of China’s earliest rice production, and the network of constructed canals has been central to the city’s early development. Kunshan is evolving from its agricultural past to an urbanised community but continues to maintain strong ties to its agricultural roots. This transition presents a current challenge – to develop urban typologies and models that demonstrate an integrated position in both architecture and urbanism – a successful urban ecology.

The studio has been a trans-disciplinary collaboration between the Department of Architecture MADA, Monash University and the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities. Inputs have been drawn from a spectrum of specialists operating in the fields of architecture, urban and landscape design, urban climate, urban ecologies and water management.

The Kunshan Studio was led by Markus Jung, Senior Lecturer MADA and director of XPACE architecture + urban design, and Jon Shinkfield, Senior Research Fellow, CRC for Water Sensitive Cities and director of REALMstudios.

Kunshan_presentation_27.11.14 copy_Final 6

Kunshan_presentation_27.11.14 copy_Final 8

Kunshan_presentation_27.11.14 copy_Final 3

Jon Shinkfield

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Design Review Panels

Damien and Jon continue with design review panel representation as an extension of their commitment toward better cities and the contribution that new development can make to the places people inhabit. The impact of development on successful places is significant, where; wind, shade and shelter, overshadowing, activated frontages, permeability and built form are critical considerations. Representation on the various panels includes:

  1. City of Vincent (WA)
  2. Shire of Mornington Design Advisory Panel (Vic)
  3. Office of the Victorian Government Architect Design Review Panel (Vic)
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New Major Wins!

REALMstudios has recently secured a number of major contracts that align with ‘City Making + Liveability’.

We are very excited to announce that REALMstudios will be working on the $42 million upgrade of the Centennial Park Sporting Precinct in Albany for the City of Albany. This win is celebrated together with the lead consultant team members of CCS Strategic, Gresley Abas, Wood + Grieve Engineers and Syrinx. REALMstudios will lead the master planning for the development.

We are also proud to announce our involvement in the Batavia Coast Marina Stage 2 development for Landcorp in Geraldton. REALMstudios will deliver the public realm which will feature a new ‘Station Square’ as the central activation space for the development.

We look forward to developing sophisticated City Making + Liveability strategies for both projects over the coming years.

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REALMstudios Accepted on BMW Panel

REALMstudios is proud to announce their position on the Building Management and Works (BMW) Engineering & Building Specialists Panel for the Department of Finance, Western Australia. The 2014 panel arrangement allows appointment of REALMstudios for Urban Design and Landscape Architectural services. We look forward to establishing a solid and long relationship with the Western Australian Government and other panel members.

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Science Up Design


Water and habitation are inextricably linked. First we built our homes near water for survival. Then we built our cities on great rivers and sea-ports for reasons of security and trade.

For centuries now the men and women who have designed our cities have understood the role water plays in forming a city’s spatial and environmental condition. We’ve understood the role it plays in framing the interstitial spaces within a city – the places that help make a city livable.

But is that all about to change?

Our green bio-systems of cool temperatures, colour, access and enjoyment that support the livable city are under serious threat as climate change delivers increasingly varied weather patterns and a decreased availability of water.

We are now experiencing an extreme challenge to our urban fabric, right across the myriad systems that support our urban existence. To use water as one example, the existing infrastructure is already under stress:

  • Underground infrastructure is under increased pressure due to run-off from higher volume rain events, which accelerates infrastructure deterioration and at the same time augments system requirements, and
  • Above ground bio mass (trees) is senescing (dying) as we continue to starve it of water by channeling and piping polluted water to our creeks, rivers and estuaries.

Put simply, we’re doing it wrong. We’ve been focusing on the provision of traditional infrastructure rather than considering a dispersed and multivalent system. A more modern, integrated, design approach would create a solution that at once cleans water for reuse, removes the pressure from the aging infrastructure, provides for clean discharge into natural local water systems and, at the same time, moderates our challenged urban spaces.

We should look at the problem from a science ‘up’ rather than a spatial/planning framework ‘down’ approach. This is the future for livable cities. And we know it works because the City of Melbourne has been demonstrating the benefits of this approach over a number of years. In Melbourne (one of the world’s most livable cities) design interventions have been used across the city centre to provide for water harvesting and filtration – from laneway tree pits where available space is limited and critical but so too are the trees, to cooling, art-based therapeutic places of social engagement. They make the city a more comfortable place, they make it a more desirable destination for both locals and tourists, and therefore they contribute to a strong city-based economy.

Singapore has already been investing significantly in the science of the city. The city’s water and its ‘place’ have become inseparable in their design and association. Water supply and water cleansing processes have become central to the imageability of the city (how easy it is to visually imagine) and its many new city branding projects (such as Gardens by the Bay).

Gardens by the Bay 02  High Line

Gardens by the Bay 01

Here the design of hard and soft infrastructure, architectural and landscape features, sporting and entertainment amenities, are all integrated as part of their water and environmental catchments, painting the city as ‘green’ and providing the city with a clean, potable water supply.

This is where design, science and policy intersect and frame the potential of a city, informing its movement patterns, its architectural footprint, its character and social priority.

Another example of economic and cultural benefits to be gained through taking an integrated design response (but at the smaller intervention scale) is the Highline, in New York City. It is a transformative project where the thoughtful reconsideration of ageing infrastructure and ecologies have registered on the world stage of city making.

The city is a system in motion – an urban ecology of a constant information feed and corresponding change. The design of its urban systems are best understood across a variety of scales (capturing both the macro and the micro) because, regardless of scale, it must once again be understood in the context of the broader catchment.

This design represents a “science up” approach. It involved not only deep research but, importantly, applying that newly acquired knowledge to help find the appropriate mix of technologies (and their possible applications) to resolve the problems at hand. They considered both the broad scale and the local – in water harvesting, in energy generation and consumption, in mobility and accessibility, and in ecology.  That is to say, in the capture, storage, treatment, use and reuse for all of these systems in a ‘city or place as catchment’ approach.

Through design consideration at both the macro and micro there is a great opportunity to explore and influence the quality of our city spaces, our urban ‘health’, the livability and desirability of a place, the mitigation of climate change impacts on the urban microclimate, social wellbeing and, ultimately, the economic performance of the city.

Jon Shinkfield

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Aviopolis presentation by REALMstudios Director Damien Pericles at UNSW

I really enjoyed presenting my 2006 ETH Masters work titled ‘Conduit Aviopolis’ to 4th year LA students at UNSW. The work focused on concepts for the Zurich Airport in Switzerland. The UNSW students are exploring designs for Sydney’s proposed airport at Badgery Creek. My thesis work was recently published in

It was great to reconnect with the faculty and hear Alexander Washburn talk about New York in his new role as Adjunct Professor at the Faculty of the Built Environment. Thanks to Catherine Evans.

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The Garden….A Microcosm of the City

It’s a question of how we see it:

An expression of the values of city making, adopting the posture of the seasons.

It is an integrated, connected, convivial, calm, cool, therapeutic and productive place.

It is a desirable place to inhabit.

Photo 3  seasonalhow we see it-1  productive

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China Town Revitalisation

In one of our first commissions the MRA approached REALMstudios to assist with generation of concepts for urban renewal of Perth’s China Town. Proposals explored long and short term placemaking strategies to achieve both quick and effective as well as strategic urban design outcomes.

China Town - Groundswell

Montage of Nicks Lane at rear of China Town featuring an inflatable Panda.

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