Hatch forecasts how our cities will be ‘future ready’

Celebrating 30 years in urban planning in Australia, sharing insights for the next 30 years

December 15, 2023

As Hatch celebrates 30 years of pioneering urban design and place development, its leading urban planner, Mike Day, reflects on how Australia’s urban landscape has changed since the 1990s and what is to come in the next 30.

Mike is a partner at Hatch—a global engineering, project management, and professional services firm with operational and development projects in metals, energy and infrastructure—a Fellow of the Planning Institute of Australia, and a member of numerous urban planning committees. Over 30 years, Mike has led design teams on urban renewal and new township projects across Australia, the UAE, and Asia.

Mike, with Erwin Roberts, co-founded urban planning consultancy RobertsDay, which integrated with Hatch in 2020. The integration enabled the company to unite its front-end spatial planning, urban design and placemaking capabilities with Hatch's expertise in development strategy, urban economics, infrastructure master planning, engineering, implementation and program management. Hatch’s newly integrated urban solutions team could also offer its services further overseas, work across different sectors including urban solutions, mining, infrastructure, and renewable energy, and draw on the expertise of 10,000 specialist Hatch employees across 150 countries.

Since then, Hatch has also broadened its services to include economics, transport planning, landscape architecture, community engagement, social value teams, and aerotropolis design. It has been awarded some of Australia’s biggest projects, including the Western Australia Government’s Future of Fremantle project, the New South Wales Government’s Bradfield City Centre, and Victoria’s Avalon aerotropolis project.

At the time of the integration, RobertsDay was one of the most important and awarded urban design and planning consultancies in Australia, with 65 employees across five cities and 600 projects worldwide. It won more than 100 awards, including the International FIABCI Award for the World’s Best Master-planned Community, 52 UDIA awards, and 24 PIA awards.

James Moore, managing director of the Hatch urban solutions team, says: "I have enormous respect for the accomplishments of our Australian-based urban solutions team in its 30 years. In the early days, Mike and Erwin’s visionary concepts went against the conventional practice of putting housing developments on vast hectares and connecting them to arterial roads. RobertsDay championed integrated, mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods that incorporated transit and green spaces long before these concepts gained widespread popularity". “Since the integration, the Australian urban solutions team has expanded beyond urban design and planning to apply its insights and expertise to the mining, metals and energy sectors—for instance, remediation planning and economic analyses of renewable projects.”

How our urban landscapes have changed in 30 years

Reflecting on the changes in urban planning since he co-founded RobertsDay in 1993, Mike Day highlights several key shifts. “Australia’s rapid house price and population growth over the last three decades has transformed urban landscapes and resulted in reduced household sizes, which, in turn, has influenced housing preferences, leading to an apartment boom and more compact housing forms to maintain housing affordability. The planning and urban development industry has once again embraced transit based mixed-use, walkable urbanism that prioritizes community living and fosters social interaction". “The rise and growth of the sharing economy, with services such as Uber, have fundamentally transformed transport as a service and how we navigate urban spaces. Additionally, the integration of technology has shifted our understanding of transportation, with the emergence of micro-mobility options such as eBikes.”

“Urban planners must be futurists”: trends over the next 30 years

Mike and his team have monitored, and even forecasted, many of these changes. He says: “We are much more than urbanists—we are a team of futurists. We specializes in evaluating and organizing the implications of systemic social, cultural, economic, and technological changes to optimize their potential cumulative impacts on future cities.”

Looking ahead, Hatch envisions a future where urban planning will focus on various critical aspects. Mike says:“Urban regeneration will be a top priority, with a concerted effort to revitalize existing urban zones, promote sustainable development, and lay the foundations for transit-based, mixed-use, walkable urban settings within the growth areas of our capital and regional cities to create more vibrant and eco-friendly cities. Social value and urban prosperity will also take center stage, with an emphasis on enhancing long-term sustainable social well-being and inclusivity, ensuring that cities provide broader societal benefits for residents.”

In this future vision, Mike says cities will be ‘future-ready’, proactively adapting to upcoming challenges and opportunities, and embracing social, cultural, economic, and technological changes to remain resilient and vibrant. Transit-oriented communities will become more common, with neighborhoods developed around efficient public transportation, reducing dependence on personal vehicles, thereby easing congestion, and improving overall quality of life. He says: “Infrastructure forms the physical and functional backbone of any city. Too often, public transit is planned, designed, and operated primarily as a system for moving people. Hatch’s urban solutions team has multifaceted experience and expertise in optimizing the social, economic, and place-related value of transit investments to create liveable, walkable, mixed-use transit-oriented communities."

He says: “Cities will also find innovative ways to repurpose underutilized or obsolete urban assets, turning them into sustainable and functional spaces to reduce waste and environmental impact. “Suburban areas will undergo significant transformation, becoming more sustainable, walkable, and integrated with urban centres, ensuring they contribute to a greener, more interconnected urban landscape. This forward-looking perspective reflects a commitment to creating urban environments that are adaptive, inclusive, and sustainable in the decades to come.”

Hatch will honor the legacy of RobertsDay’s 30 years of industry excellence in early 2024 with an event for clients and other stakeholders, featuring keynote speaker NY-based Professor June Williamson, one of the world’s foremost urbanism and built form experts and authors. June is best known for her ideas on the retrofitting of American suburbia into a denser, more efficient urban pattern.

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For more information, please contact:

Lindsay Janca
Global Director, Public Relations, Hatch
Tel: +1 905 403 4199

About Hatch

Whatever our clients envision, our teams can design and build. With over six decades of business and technical experience in the energy, mining, and infrastructure sectors, we know your business and understand that your challenges are changing rapidly. We are deeply engaged in the energy transformation from generation, storage and transmission to applications in both the public and industrial sectors.  We respond quickly with solutions that are smarter, more efficient and more innovative. We draw upon our 10,000 staff with experience in over 150 countries to challenge the status quo and create positive change for our clients, our employees, and the communities we serve.    

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