Urban development and large city scaping projects: A discussion with Urbis regional director Peter Small

Victorian minds have always been the key to building better cities for Melbourne-based professional services firm, Urbis, as they shape communities across the Southern Hemisphere.

Melbourne’s offers a quality of life that has seen it ranked as the world’s most liveable city for five years in a row. It’s this quality of life and the vibrant business and civic cultures that come with it that makes it easy for urban planning experts, Urbis Pty Ltd, to attract the brightest minds to grow their business in Australia and abroad.

Smart design in demand

Urbis was originally a land evaluation practice but, through decades of growth in Melbourne’s fertile business and knowledge environment, has grown to offer a broad range of strategic and master planning services for cities and communities taking on projects of any size.

Peter Small, Regional Director at Urbis and part of its tight-knit management team, says this growth has been part of a natural transition.

“Urbis has been gradually building up expertise so that we can be in a position, together with our clients, to be a part of how our cities are growing,” he says. “We are creating communities rather than simply subdividing.”

Bright minds mean better results

Collecting bright minds to develop, talk and work together is a central tenet of how Urbis operates, and with Melbourne offering a talent mother lode, it’s proven to be a successful strategy for this professional services firm.

“We try to expose clients to fresh ideas and thinking,” says Peter Holland, a director at Urbis, and recognised global expert in the retail sector.

“The skills that exist in this country are incredibly high, and many of these skills are incredibly transferable,” says Holland. “There is something very pragmatic and respectful about how Australians operate that appeals to overseas clients.”

Partnership approach to building better cities

With projects in cities across the Southern Hemisphere that range from new residential to urban redesign, Urbis believe working together with the stakeholders that shape these cities is vital to creating good society.

Peter Small says that government in particular has played a leading role through policy and discussion. “In Victoria, they’ve provided new design guidelines that respond to how our cities are growing” he says, encouraging an evolution that will result in more economically, socially vibrant cities in the future.”

Taking every opportunity to learn

The simple principles followed by this professional services firm mean that Urbis rarely misses an opportunity for growth and knowledge acquisition; their recent expansion into Singapore through the establishment of a new business called Cistri has brought with it some unexpected benefits.

Peter Holland says there’s a lot to learn from the small island, which can be traversed by car in 40 minutes at its farthest points: “It’s interesting because Singapore is a city-state that is in some ways overplanned, yet it works fantastically” he says.

By creating the possibility for global knowledge to be imported to Melbourne and vice versa, Cistri is an exciting new chapter for Urbis; it provides a vital touchpoint for extending into Asian markets, and further opportunities for Victoria’s finest minds to influence the way cities and communities are built around the world.