What can academic research do for city-building practitioners?

  • YEAR
    Melles, Fanni
    Paay, Jeni
    Woodcock, Ian
    2022 Conference Papers
    Conference Papers


Cities are where we need to begin solving global and local urban challenges by changing how we approach urban management, planning and design. Academic research, like the smart city field, currently focuses more on informing urban policy-makers than city-building practitioners such as architects, urban planners and designers, and engineers. These professions directly affect urban fabric, systems and behaviour through their practice. However, there is a disconnect between academic theories on achieving urban sustainability and city-building practices. In this article, we analyse 43 semi-structured interviews with practitioners based in Melbourne, Australia, to understand their perceptions about academic research related to the future of cities and its relevance for and relationships with practice. According to the participants, academic research rarely connects with practice, and research outcomes do not reach practitioners as they are not in an easily accessible form. The interviewees felt that academic research discounts the value of practical knowledge. These practitioners advocated for more innovative research and risk-taking in academic research with adequate proof and translation, making findings more applicable to practice. They praised collaboration across disciplines and stakeholders. Insights from this research indicate the need for pathways for translating academic research findings into practical advice for city-building practitioners.

Keywords: academic research; practical implementation; city-building practitioners.


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