Q&A WIth ClarkeHopkinsClarke Partner Dean Landy


ClarkeHopkinsClarke (CHC) is an award-winning Melbourne-based architecture practice with over 55 years experience across the education, health care, aged care, mixed-use, retail, multi-residential and urban design sectors.

The practice’s underlying philosophy is to create vibrant communities that have a strong sense of identity, and are a pleasure to visit and inhabit.

With over 14 years’ experience as a registered architect, Dean Landy is well regarded for his strong capability in the planning and design of Retail & Mixed Use projects as well as Multi-Residential, Commercial and Community Infrastructure projects. Dean is also the founding member and director of One Heart Foundation – a not-for-profit foundation that exists to change the future of orphaned and abandoned children living in poverty in Kenya.

What are some of the most pressing challenges currently facing the architecture and development industry?
Looking at this from the perspective of an architect and urban designer involved in the design and development of many new town centres across Victoria, I feel that socially the most pressing challenge is around how we as a profession can help create more liveable, affordable and vibrant places for people to live, specifically in Australia’s growth areas which often face higher levels of social disadvantage and related health issues.

A key challenge is figuring out how we can offer greater housing diversity to address the issue of affordability, but to do so in a way that offers an appealing lifestyle choice. People need to be able to buy something that may be smaller in size but is still good quality and provides great amenity. I can see that by designing smaller dwellings, apartments and townhouses in growth areas, we can provide affordable housing options to first homebuyers through to downsizers, and in doing so provide the higher density required to support more walkable, mix of use village centres.

The challenge is about creating appealing places where people want to live and we cannot assume that everyone aspires to live in a 4-bedroom house with a double garage. The millennial generation has a much different set of requirements in where they choose to live.
You specialise in designing mixed-use developments across urban areas. Do you see mixed-use projects as important to cater for Australia’s future?
Mixed-use goes hand in hand with diversity and density. By creating well connected mixed use centres we appeal to a broader demographic of the population which adds to the vibrancy of a place. Mixed-use developments create liveable communities.

Despite their importance, mixed-use projects in our growth areas are still relatively uncommon, however I find that the desire in many people to live in vibrant urban villages is the same from Point Cook to South Yarra. What differs is the level of affordability, especially with first homeowners.

There needs to be more than just residential and a bit of retail; mixed-use needs to factor in employment, entertainment and education and to address the fact that we are getting less of our own private open space. A focus on creating good quality third places such as good cafes, public squares and pocket parks where you can meet, socialise and connect is crucial.
Do you believe architects have a responsibility to improve the happiness and health of people living in their projects and communities?
I am a big believer that architects and urban designers play a critical role in the health and wellbeing of residents.

Some developers have a good understanding of this and can appreciate their role in creating healthier, more liveable communities. I find that we can often bring a discussion to the table about the different groups that help create healthier communities such as community groups and services, clubs sports groups through to larger health care providers. These are factors that don’t often get considered in the creation of village centres or urban infill type projects.

Architects and designers need to lead that discussion and have the experience of what’s needed to complete the ‘puzzle’. When meeting with the developer we will put ideas forward and advise them how to put a methodology in place to make sure it is considered from the outset.

We need to take into consideration what elements will stimulate greater happiness, health and wellbeing and provide a place for people to connect to. This is especially true in areas where there is no community represented such as greenfield areas we are master planning. In those cases it is about having that understanding of all the different elements that need to come together to build a future community and provide the diversity to attract a broad demographic.
You are also the founding director of One Heart Foundation. How do you manage being a CHC partner, One Heart Foundation director, and being a father?
To me, my profession as an architect, my passion as the founder and director of One Heart Foundation, and my personal life, faith and family are all intertwined. All these facets are focused on enjoying life with my family now, but also building a legacy for my kids, community and the thousands of orphaned, abandoned and abused children whose lives will be transformed by the work of One Heart.

Kenya image:

Kenya image: oneheartchallenge.orgWhat are your goals for One Heart Foundation for the next 12 months?
Ultimately, the vision of One Heart is to transform the lives of thousands of the most disadvantaged children in impoverished regions of the world. Our focus is on four pillars: holistic care, education, sustainability, and social impact, and we are seeing significant change in the lives of the 75 orphaned and abandoned children in our care.

We are currently focused in Kenya where we have established a primary school, skills training centre and 3 children’s homes. We are about to start construction on a high school and then another children’s home so we will soon care for 100 One Heart children in this village. We will also provide high quality education to hundreds more children from the surrounding villages. Once the schools are complete, our uniquely sustainable model will allow that village to ‘run itself’ and we will then look to replicate this model in other parts of Africa and potentially Asia.

Although this is our first village where we are really proving the model, our focus is always centered on the idea that everything must be sustainable. I see the money that is invested now into building projects as an investment in others. $10,000 can build a classroom and educate 30 kids per year, which to me is what creating a legacy is all about. Many businesses that share this view are partnering with us and can see the evidence of their contributions transforming the lives of kids for the long term.
What can you tell us about your upcoming book, Creating Vibrant Communities: A fresh approach to delivering healthy, sustainable and liveable communities?
The book originated from the idea that we were getting more involved in the creation of new town and village centres and I started to think about how we can literally help create more vibrant communities.

I am interested in how we can physically start to create liveable places and plant the seeds for stronger communities, which lead to the idea of the initial in house research which then lead to the opportunity for a publishing contract.

Over the last two years I have led a team researching for this book. We have conducted over 40 interviews with experts, academics, developers and community groups to ensure that we get a good cross-section of views, as I believe it is always a better outcome when we can have a more collaborative discussion with varying points of view from different stakeholders.

The book looks at developing a methodology for the evolution of a new communities, from how we can start to set a vision for a place from the very first day of a major development, through to how we can activate a new place and plant the seeds for a community to grow organically.

Beyond just talking about ‘why’ communities are important, Creating Vibrant Communities sets out to demonstrate ‘how’ we can create more healthy, sustainable and liveable communities.

The book is due for release in November.


CHC has evolved significantly since you first joined the practice in 1998, growing from 12 team members to more than 105 today. To what do you attribute this growth?
A unique aspect of CHC is that we aren’t all trying to be everything to everyone. Each partner focuses on a different area. We have separate teams that focus specifically on education, retail, health, aged care, residential and community infrastructure. Our truly unique offer is when all of these teams come together to help create whole communities.

Because of our diverse expertise we can plug into the knowledge base of the different partners and bring about fresh outcomes in the different sectors, providing a real value add for the developer. We are always looking at the bigger picture but still focusing on the key areas we specialise in.
What are some significant trends or topics of interest you’re seeing in the industry?
I am finally seeing a real trend towards the creation of more walkable places. At CHC, we support the idea of the 20-minute community where everything is walkable. The Holy Grail is trying to get transport infrastructure to new communities earlier because that will drive the second piece of the critical puzzle: employment, as that is a necessity if we truly want to deliver an alternate lifestyle choice for people beyond just commuting to the city.

The digital revolution is allowing us to decentralise the workplace even though we are still seeing city centric employment. We need to shift our thinking and start to create places and opportunities to target a knowledge-based population to the growth areas.
What piece of advice would you give to graduate architects today?
What’s your why? Why are you passionate about architecture or urban design? Is it that you want to create the ultimate piece of art or is it that you want to see how through your profession and your skills you can actually impact people’s lives?As a graduate you come out of university and you are trying to build your experience, but having a mindset about where you want to get to is really important. If you want to be a thought leader in a certain area or a health expert its about getting some clarity on where you want your career to go and then having a strategy about how you will get there. Don’t wait for everything to be handed to you…set your goals and make it happen.
Have you had any mentors who have supported or inspired you throughout your career?
I am a big advocate of mentors and have had quite a few over the years. One of them, Les Clarke, just retired from CHC after establishing the practice 56 years ago.

I believe you should really have a mentor up, down and sideways. A mentor up is someone that inspires you and has been there before you. You can learn a lot from that relationship and I have a number of those. A mentor down is not about looking down on people but thinking about where you are and how you can offer advice to people like graduates, potentially helping people who are coming through the same process. A mentor sideways is people within your own organisation or peers who you can talk with. Don’t feel like you can’t learn from those around you. We should always be learning and always stretching ourselves.


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