DEBRA CUSHING

Associate Professor

Dr. Cushing’s research combines her interest in healthy and supportive environments for children and youth with her understanding of using design theory and research evidence to create sustainable and vibrant landscapes. She uses environmental psychology theory and placemaking principles to inform the design of cities.

Her current research areas include:

Intergenerational park design for physical activity and social interaction;
Playful urban design solutions to encourage physical activity for all ages;
Artful placemaking – using public art in public space; and
Using gamification to enhance environmental engagement for children.
Deb is currently an Associate Professor in Landscape Architecture and the Spatial Discipline Leader (Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Interior Architecture study areas) for the School of Design. She is also a researcher with the QUT Design Lab and the Centre for the Environment. She is the lead investigator on an ARC Linkage Project titled Intergenerational Park Design for Active and Engaged Communities. The trans-disciplinary project will be completed in 2021 and will lead to a better understanding of how parks and open space impact physical activity levels for intergenerational populations.

Prior to arriving at QUT, Deb received a Bachelor’s in Landscape Architecture from Pennsylvania State University and a Master’s of Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Landscape Architecture with a focus on ecological restoration. Deb also worked for several years as a landscape architect practitioner for engineering and planning firms in Colorado, USA. During her time in practice, she served on interdisciplinary teams with planners, engineers, and community administrators to find sustainable solutions to community issues. Deb facilitated participatory planning methods during public workshops and community meetings to gain input regarding community parks, trail systems, and outdoor learning environments. She received a PhD in Design and Planning from the University of Colorado Denver, where she researched youth master plans in the United States. She also served as one of the founding coordinators for Growing Up Boulder, an ongoing child- and youth-friendly city initiative created to facilitate youth participation in community decision-making.

Workshop Title: Transforming Public Space through Play

In the pursuit of the increased liveability of cities, public spaces are often subject to targeted design interventions that are based on instrumental functions and amenity. However, amenity prioritises only some types of uses through design for certain needs or desires. During this special training sessions participants will have the chance to learn about a novel urban analysis method called CITY PLAY-framework. This framework takes advantage of the full complexity of human behaviour in relation to play activities in space. With this framework urbanists can gain a deep understanding of specific public spaces in urban core area with their dynamic qualities as part of public life studies. The presenter will explain the development process of the framework and demonstrates its application on practical exemplar cases in the international context. If you wish to create not just “liveable” but “lovable” urban places for all this is a session you don’t want to miss.

DEBRA CUSHING