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The Ontology of the city: designers’ role in fostering inclusion, segregation and resilient communities through design – Mirko Guaralda, Queensland University of Technology

By on October 6, 2016
Lecturer - profile

Mirko Guaralda

Senior Lecturer

Main affiliation
Queensland University of Technology






Dr Mirko Guaralda is Senior Lecturer in Architecture in the School of Design, Creative Industries Faculty (CIF) at Queensland University of Technology, Australia; he currently is also Post-Graduate Coordinator for Architecture and CIF Research Ethics Advisor. He has been researcher at the United States Study Centre of Sydney in 2012 with a study on the relationship between urban form and social behaviour.
Mirko’s background includes experience in architectural design, landscape architecture and urban design; his research focuses on People-Place interaction, with particular interest in how people customise, appropriate and inhabit in public spaces. Mirko’s work analyses cityscapes through the identification of recurrent patterns, building typologies and design principles. The identity and character of a site are interpreted analysing also lived experiences and uses of the build environment. Mirko’s research aims to provide a better understanding of urban dynamics, at different scales, to support a positive development and/or management of our cities. Since 2001 Mirko has been involved in research projects in Australia as well as in Italy, his home country, and so far has received over $100,000.00 in funding for his work on cities and communities.
Before joining academia full time, Mirko has been working in industry and local government; he has been involved in a wide range of projects at different scales, including public spaces, parks and gardens, civic facilities and multifunctional complexes, restoration of historical buildings and strategic development plans.

English Proficiency

Previous experience of recording video lectures

Experience of lecturing to large audiences

Experience of lecturing to large audiences

Frequency of lectures
Very often

Recording opportunities
Habitat III attendance and availability


Main themes
Social Inclusion
Planning and Design

The Ontology of the city: designers’ role in fostering inclusion, segregation and resilient communities through design

‘The Ontology of the city’ aims to discuss the responsibility of designers in fostering a sense of community through their architectural and urban design propositions, debating how designers’ personal social and political stances transpire in their work.

Issues which the lecture addresses
This lecture aims to foster a reflection on the role of designers, especially architects and urban designers, in shaping our civic societies. The way buildings and cities are designed is often focussed on strong appealing images to brand a locale and make it appealing for selected users. This approach is producing arguable outcomes in terms of aesthetic, but the social implication of architectural design is often underplayed by many architects. The social and civic role of architecture is today largely ignored, but our history is plenty of instances where architecture was aimed to produce inclusive resilient communities through design.

Short analysis of the above issues
Introverted and not-porous architecture has been identified as one of the major issues in the design of modernist and post-modernist cities. Buildings often do not engage with the public realm and in many cases do not provide a viable support for diverse urban activities, apart the ones of commercial nature. The privatisation of the public realm is resulting in the exclusion of the more vulnerable segment of society, but there is a long tradition of architecture intended to foster community engagement and participation that is often neglected in the current architectural discourse.

Propositions for addressing the issue
• Ontology and Design | how designers’ ontology influences the conception of urban spaces
• Historical overview of instances of socially responsible architectural and urban design
• What do Equity and Justice mean in terms of urban design?
• Contemporary instances of architectural design presenting a socially inclusive approach

Additional Reading Materials
Cox, C. & Guaralda, M. (2014) Public space for street-scape theatrics : guerrilla spatial tactics and methods of urban hacking in Brisbane, Australia. In Bravo, Luisa (Ed.) Past Present and Future of Public Space – International Conference on Art, Architecture and Urban Design, Bologna, Italy.

Purcell, M. 2013, Possible worlds: Henri Lefebvre and the Rigth to the City, Journal of Urban Affairs, vol 36, no 1, pp 141-154.

Morgan, L.J. (2013) Gated Communities: Institutionalizing Social Stratification, The Geographical Bulletin, Vol 54, no 1, pp24-36.

Draft presentation