Urban Design Studio in flipped classroom mode

Last week I taught for the first time the Urban Design Studio at James Cook University. It was a very intense but enjoyable week with classes from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

The total course hours is 130hs and this is how it was organised:

  • Content (readings and short lectures) available online prior to the face-to-face component
  • 40 hours face-to-face
  • 6 hours Online tutorials
  • 84 hours self-directed work


On the first day we had a 3-hour site visit. We went to a couple of tourism-based areas around Cairns. One that works very well and another one not so successful. We then compared the amenities, design, speed of movement, distances and so forth.

Besides a 30-question quizz assessment based on Gehl (2010), Carmona (2010) and Montgomery (1998), the projects were focused on a site invetory and analysis, masterplan/context plan, and site design. Each one of the components had a pin up session where we discussed opportunities, constraints and design ideas.

At the end of the last class the comments were:

  • Students wished they could work on CAD tools for this subject – it is not a core part of degree at JCU yet, but there will be opportunities for this coming up soon.
  • Students wished it was delivered over the semester instead of an intensive week. In their words: Not because it didn’t work, but because it was all too interesting to work on only for a short period of time.

In conclusion, I think I can say the last couple of weeks were very tiring – both preparing and delivering this subject – but the results, energy and discussions were worth every minute spent on this.



Carmona, M., Tiesdell, S., Heath, T., Oc, T., (2010) Public Places – Urban Spaces. Taylor & Francis.
Gehl, J. (2010), Cities for People. Washington DC, USA: Island Press.
Montgomery, J. (1998), Making a city: Urbanity, vitality and urban design. Journal of Urban Design, Routledge 3(1): 93–116.

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