Dr Cathy Smith
Senior Lecturer

Dr Cathy Smith

BBE(IntDes), BArch(Hons1), MAppSc(Research), PhD SYD, BOAQ, RAIA, AFHEA

Arts,Design & Architecture
School of Built Environment

As a registered architect, interior designer and academic with international and local experience, Cathy operates at the nexus of research and industry. She particularly enjoys complex urban problems involving competing stakeholder perspectives, and helping her research partners identify project drivers. With particular interests in temporary urbanism, creative placemaking, DIY procurement and urban renewal, she is committed to issues of equity in the built environment and its associated educational processes. Cathy was a Richard Rogers Fellow (Harvard University GSD, Fall 2018) and the inaugural Turnbull Foundation Women in the Built Environment scholar (UNSW, 2018-2021). Her scholarly research on Meanwhile Use in vacant or underutilized properties, Valuing Creative Placemaking, DIY architecture and DIY urbanism have been widely published as book chapters and in international journals including Australian Feminist Studies, the Journal of Place Management and DevelopmentArchitectural Histories, Interstices, Architectural Theory Review, IDEA and Design Ecologies.

+61 (0) 9385 7793
Red Centre
  • Journal articles | 2020
    Tezcan N; Durakovic I; Smith C; Lloyd E; D'Arcy S, 2020, 'Scaffolded, simulated work-integrated learning in design education: Beyond the live project', International Journal of Work-Integrated Learning, Special Issue,, vol. 21, pp. 521 - 529, https://www.ijwil.org/

2021 New Staff Grant (research): 'The Legacy Value of Meanwhile Placemaking and Use in Greater Sydney, Post-Covid 19' (School of Built Environment, UNSW, AUD$6032)

2018-2021 Turnbull Foundation Women and Built Environment scholarship AUD$95 000 and stipend for AGSM Women in Leadership Program

2018 Richard Rogers Fellowship, Harvard GSD, residency and USD$10 000 stipend

2017-2020: Team member C2, ‘Valuing Creative Placemaking’, Urban Growth NSW University Partnership Collaborative Learning Proposal Grant, UON, MQ, UNSW, City People (Total Value AUD$130 000)

06.2014 – 12.2014: New Staff Grant, ‘Between the Analogue and the Digital: DIY urbanism as a Procurement Methodology For Small-Scale Architectural Practice Involving Design-Build Assembly and the Portable Digital Printer’ (UON, AUD$5000)

01.2010 – 12.2010: New Staff Research start-up grant ‘An Investigation of the DIY Architectural Aesthetic in Australia’ (UQ, AUD$11 254)

University of New South Wales

2018-2020: Turnbull Foundation Women in Built Environment Scholarship, AUD $95000 plus stipend to attend the AGSM Women in Leadership programme

Harvard GSD

Fall 2018: Richard Rogers Fellowship, residency and stipend

University of Newcastle

2015-2016: Inaugural Australian Fminist Network (AFS)Mentoring Scheme for the Australian Feminist Studies journal

University of Queensland

2011: Teaching Excellence Award and stipend, Faculty fo Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology

Australian Government, Department of Education and Training

2000-2007: Australian Postgraduate Scholarship (APA), part-time

Queensland University of Technology

2000-2007: Vice Chancellor’s Scholarship Initiative

1997: Academic Medal (Bachelor of Architecture)

1997: Dean’s Award for Excellence 1997

1996: Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA) QIA Medallion

1996: Noel Robinson Architect’s Prize

1996: UDIA Student Award for Excellence

1995: Fulton Gilmour Trotter Moss Research Award 1995-1996

1991: Academic Medal (Bachelor of Built Environment)


I have three primary research projects and areas broadly focused on issues of urban renewal, place identity and social and gender equality.

The first and current major project results from a Richard Rogers Fellowship, Harvard GSD  (Fall 2019),  and the Turnbull Foundation Women in Built Environment scholarship (UNSW, 2018-2020), resulting in scholarly and industry publications, and a PhD (Urban studies and Planning). It is focused on identifying the drivers, design implications and experience of meanwhile use: the temporary occupation of vacant sites and buildings awaiting redevelopment for residential or non-residential uses. In London, meanwhile use has become a sector in its own right and its residential form is also referred to as property guardianship or meanwhile housing. 

The second current collaborative research project is ‘Valuing Creative Placemaking’ and involves the development and testing of a toolkit for stakeholders wanting to evaluate their arts-led programming in urban redevelopment sites. It involves research partners in Landcom, City People, Macquarie University and the University of Newcastle; and has produced several scholarly journal and industry publication outcomes. 

The third project relates to DIY architecture and urbanism (also the focus of my first PHD in Architectural History and Theory), an area in which I have published extensively. I am particularly interested in the connection of do-it-yourself practices to individual and communal identity.

My Teaching

Cathy has taught in the subject areas of design, history and theory and construction to undergraduate and postgraduate students of architecture, landscape architecture and interior architecture and design at several Australian Universities, including the University of Queensland, the University of Newcastle and the Queensland University of Technology. She was recently a Visiting Professor at Carleton University, Canada (Winter 2019) where she developed and delivered a Master of Architecture design studio based on her 'Meanwhile Use' research project.