• In planning the built environment with people in mind, urban planners architects and designers need to address issues of basic needs such as urban food production and availability; equitable access to work and education; urban design that enhances social interaction and participation; methods of reducing living costs, especially for low income groups, and other unaccustomed topics. The physical design of communities to promote social sustainability is imperative for achieving all of the above. At Synthesis Studio we believe that only through community engagement and consultations we can achieve profound outcomes, ones that empowers communities, large or small to have a say in how they want to live their lives, and what their immediate environment will look like.
  • Our work with communities ranges from interior design to develop design strategies for various associations, community centers, neighbourhoods design.


the 1% initiative

  •  1 percent of our time (currently much more) is dedicated to pro-bono work  with various communities. Our engagement ranges from interior design to develop design strategies , neighbourhoods invigoration, public talks and collaboration with other local groups such as Transition Town and Permaculture (Blue Mountains).

Community  by design

 * Cohousing Neighbourhood Model

  • With passion for Cohousing and sustainable communities, Gilo has been researching and writing about cohousing, working with various groups and individuals through design charrettes and concept development for their future community. The cohousing development model is quite unique in its ground up approach.and through a set of workshops , from ‘getting it built’ to a more specific ‘site and home programming’ we help groups in their process of designing, conceptualizing and transforming their own neighbourhoods.
  • Cohousing, what is it?
  • Imagine a living arrangement in which multiple, individually owned housing units are oriented around a common house – a place where community is a way of life. Imagine residents who actively cooperate in planning the project with one goal in mind – to recreate an old-fashioned neighbourhood that supports friendly cooperation, socialization  and mutual support.Cohousing neighbourhoods consists of private, fully-equipped homes that support an old-fashion sense of neighbourhood with extensive community amenities. [Katie McCamant & Chuck Durrett 2009]

[see articles in our media link]

  • * Common House Design
  • The common house as known in the cohousing communities or the community house is the extended living room, the heart of every community. the Common House is where most of the community activities happens, from workshops, play room guest accommodation, shared laundry, to shared meals and more.
  • we engage with community and stakeholders to design the space to specifically tailored to the needs of the community and budget.

  • * Neighbourhoods Transformation
  • Many residents of both suburban and urban express a longing for a stronger sense of place, including stronger connections with people, local traditions and nature. Through engagement with local neighbourhood groups residents and council official  we advise on how they can make their neighbourhoods livelier and more productive through social activities and physical changes.


  •  The design charrettes has become an increasingly popular way to engage the public and stakeholders in public planning, our focus is mainly on the residential realm where community consultation hardly ever happens. Through various design charrettes we engage with the local and future residents, empowering them to take ownership, creating a sense of belonging to their community and homes by involving them in the process of design and decision making, bringing together community and sustainability to create a special place to be and live in. a successful charrette produces a design that expresses the values and vision of the community. Using workshops can be an effective way to streamline the design process, by bringing everyone together at critical phases. Workshops serve to educate groups about  sustainable neighbourhood’s features, focusing on creative energy, and facilitating efficient decision making.

    • Special Stakeholder Facilitation Workshop
  • In this project specific workshop we act as coordinators and facilitators through an inclusive decision-making process that brings together citizens, designers, public officials and developers in several days of collaborative workshops, achieving maximum engagement and outcomes for stakeholders.