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HH in Focus – Tom Keating

28/07/2020 - Celebration -

Tom Keating – Urban Designer

Tom Keating is an Urban Designer at Human Habitats and is the longest-serving HH employee, joining the team mid-way through 2016 as a student. Tom has a Bachelor of Science (Environmental) and a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture.

At HH, Tom has worked on a wide variety of projects across the design team including large greenfield developments, infill sites, transport corridors, and high density residential developments. He is sought out within the team for his wide range of experience and knowledge.

Q: One of the best things about being an Urban Designer is being able to shape a project’s vision and direction right from the start of the project. Can you name a project where you have experienced this?

TK: Verdant Hill is one of our largest urban design projects. It’s a 195Ha greenfield development in Tarneit that Human Habitats has been involved in from the very start. It’s extremely satisfying to watch a project so large come together, from the first sketches on paper, to when plans are approved, lots are sold, and then finally seeing buildings constructed.

In addition to working with the overall structure and vision that tends to define street layouts and open spaces, I find it’s often the smaller details where we can really inject ourselves and put the Human Habitats stamp on a project, to the benefit of the communities that we are creating.

Q: Working on such a large and complex project would require you to work with a pretty multi-disciplinary team. Can you discuss your experience with this?

TK: Being thrust into a project like Verdant Hill from the get-go was eye opening. Wittnessing the knowledge and experience of such a multidisciplinary team working in such a cohesive way was very exciting and slightly intimidating as someone so green. Getting to know the project engineers, landscape architects, architects, project managers, and understanding the role that they play within projects, how they work together, and how that can lead to successful outcomes has been invaluable.

As my experience grew, I realised that we as Urban Designers, need to have substantial knowledge in many of these disciplines in order to contribute successfully to a project and achieve the shared vision.

Q: As Urban Designers, what do you think you have done at Verdant Hill to set it apart from other greenfield developments?

TK: We were lucky that Verdant Hill has the advantage of natural features such as a creek corridor. The main structure and vision was defined by accentuating and taking advantage of that corridor. We re-designed open spaces, created view lines, and added pedestrian pathways to increase access for the community. It’s these aspects that can make the difference between a place where people want to live, compared to a project that doesn’t respond to its context.

Q: HH’s Urban Designers and Landscape Architects work together as one team. How do you think this benefits you as a designer, as well as the projects you work on?

TK: This is of great benefit because of the additional experience we get working with both disciplines. We get to work on such a wide range of projects, from large greenfield sites with residential developments, to rail corridor projects, to the “Brooks Jetty” site in St Kilda. Our work is hugely varied, which ensures no two weeks are ever the same.