Great communication, determination, vision, curiosity, and eagerness to learn are all qualities that make up a good urban planner and a CityChanger. Qualities that this Young Leader possesses without a doubt.
As an Urban Designer at ClarkeHopkinsClarke in Australia, Andrew Amos is passionate about finding solutions to the current climatic and societal issues in our cities. His work revolves around community-focused projects, making cities more liveable, climate-adaptive, and convenient for everyday life.
Aiming for Change through Curiosity
Having an interest in a range of topics, hobbies, and issues was what led this Young Leader down the path of urbanism. As a high schooler, Andrew was interested in many subjects, from geography and design to performance and theatre. Designing cities and bringing places and people together seemed like a great mix of all of these fields. To Andrew, cities are not much different than a theatre stage: “Every theatre show is set in a time and place; the setting for the show gives you a story, it gives you a feeling. That’s what cities do: they give you a time and a place to experience or feel something.”
Andrew tries bringing his many interests (culture, languages, meeting people) into his work whenever he can. “Don’t lose sight of what you love,” advises Andrew. It’s the combination of interests and knowledge that’s the key to successful change-making.
“Use your interests or your passion and bring it into everything you do.”
At only 29 years of age, Andrew already has a lot of urban planning experience under his belt. And throughout all this, there are two skills he learnt every CityChanger should have: communication and perseverance.
For any planner, it’s important to be able to talk to groups of different people and understand their points of view, while transmitting messages across and between various groups. Planners do not only design inanimate buildings but connect people as well.
“Just listen. Listen closely to everyone you meet. Listen to what they’re saying and think about why they would be saying it.”
And when it comes to perseverance:
“Always remember the values that you have about cities, and always bring them up at the right time.”
Never forget your values, what you want to achieve in a city, and when the opportunity arises, use them.
Decisiveness & Influence: Setting the Path
This links back to one of the most memorable pieces of advice, coming from his closest family member: “To change anything, you just have to start, you just have to be the first one,” said his brother and something that is still reflected in Andrew’s work. Andrew explains, “because the power of that is that other people will then watch and learn. And that’s how things grow”, emphasizing the wisdom of his brother’s words – a piece of advice that can surely be applied to more than just professional life.
Reaching for Goals
The effects of this advice can be seen in his work. Andrew’s team is designing local town centres and transforming the empty centres of suburbs into compact places with entertainment, work, and living complexes all in close proximity to each other.
Within the projects, they also focus on integrating ecology and water-sensitive urban designs into those places. Currently, due to the design of Australian cities, most of them are on one hand experiencing droughts, and on the other, seeing problems with rainwater. Andrew and his team’s designs aim to prevent the water from rushing over the street’s surfaces. “We have to do that as a standard, a minimum, rather than as something that’s nice to have. It’s something that has to happen,” Andrew emphasizes.
Thinking about the discussions which still need to be had, two things stand out to Andrew. First is the experience that disadvantaged people have in cities, people who maybe cannot afford to spend money in public places, or minority groups. We need to ask what their experience is like in cities, and how to make it better.
And the second is, sometimes we forget we live in one small part of the world – not everyone does or thinks the same as us. This is the exact case for Australia and Europe; green roofs might be on the rise in Europe, getting implemented into policies, gaining popularity, etc., but not for Australia. Down under, Andrew points out, “there isn’t the scale of change yet to realize how much cities have to offer to climate,” adding they have a “fairly business-as-usual approach to urban development. Green roofs, and other initiatives, get talked about, but when it comes to implementing them, people stop talking.”
“We need to continue the conversation from the idea right out to the implementation. Because that’s where we’ll make the impact.”
What the Future Holds
Andrew has visited many cities around the world, but Melbourne stays firmly in this Australian-loving heart. “It’s a very diverse city with its people and the culture that is everchanging. There’s always something to do and to see – it’s an exciting city to live in,” he says. An attitude that can certainly be seen in his projections for the future. Creating a quality-living environment for the residents of his favourite city.
“I’m excited about the way Australia is starting to recognise the value of compact cities,” Andrew tells us, eagerly anticipating the future. Because Australia is a big continent with much free space, its cities have expanded outwards over the years, creating many sprawling suburbs. “I’m enthusiastic about how people who live in cities are starting to realise that we can retrofit and come back to those places, make them more compact, and create much more liveable places by putting services, places to work and live in close proximity to one another,” Andrew adds. His enthusiasm continues: “And then on top of that, bringing in natural systems into those compact cities is really gaining traction now. Not only for health, but also for the environment and the climate.”
And when it comes to Andrew himself? Well, he’s looking forward to working in urban policy. He wants to take his knowledge about Australian cities and compare it to other cities in the world. To start putting targets around sustainability initiatives into action.
“I hope to write urban policy and also demonstrate by design to show how these challenges might be solved,” wishes Andrew.
A Case of Zealous Attitude
When it comes to putting words into action, Andrew is no stranger. In his work, goal-setting and vision become a perfect match, creating liveable, inviting, and inclusive, yet climate-adaptive, sustainable, and overall nicer cities for every single one of their residents. It’s Andrew’s willpower, confidence, and compassion that will undoubtedly influence other aspiring CityChangers and leave an impact in the sustainable urbanisation field.