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PhD (Otago), MADU / MArch (Notre Dame), BEnvd (Colorado) Crystal Filep profile
Tel +64 3 479 9010
Surveying building, 1st floor, Room 111



As a researcher and designer, I aim to find ways in which the full range of human experiences can better shape our conceptualisation of cities and thereby lead to innovative theories and design approaches capable of contributing meaningfully in a rapidly urbanising world. The world's urban population is set to nearly double in 40 years, and most urbanisation is occurring in cities of less than one million inhabitants. How we conceptualise, design and evaluate urban growth is more essential than ever.

My approach places equal value in the creation of material urban form and in the constructed or situated nature of reality. Lived experiences in relation to both built and natural landscapes serve a critical role in the analysis and contextualisation of a programme that interrogates (1) dominant urban theory (that which is conceptualised) and (2) 'best practice' urban design (that which exists materially). Situated in both New Zealand and in comparable international contexts, my research builds on the investigative work I undertook in Sweden and on my various professional collaborations. My initial focus on new urban theory and compact neighbourhood development is expanding to explore competing theories and typological urban forms, with the inclusion of natural landscapes to further expand investigative and creative options.

Outside of academia, my experience spans the public and private sectors, and includes work in New Zealand, Australia and the US as an urban designer and architectural professional. Before joining the School of Surveying, I was Team Leader Urban Design at Dunedin City Council, where I led a small team of Urban Designers and Landscape Architects within DCC's City Planning department. My team and I led Dunedin's endorsement of the Global Street Design Guide, the Octagon Experience (over the 2018 Easter weekend), the final stage of Dunedin's Warehouse Precinct upgrades and the Clyde Street 3D pedestrian crossings, as well as various other streetscape upgrade initiatives.


SURV303 Urban Design 1 (coordinator)
SURV453/553 Urban Design 2 (coordinator)

Contributes to other papers on topics of urban design, urbanism, urban planning, architecture and research methods.


Research Interests

  • Urban theory
  • Urban design practices
  • Urban landscapes and contemporary society
  • Architecture and philosophy / theology
  • Design and identity
  • Creative research methods

Research Group Memberships

  • Member of Australasian Early Career Urban Research Network (AECURN)
  • Member of International Society for the Philosophy of Architecture(ISPA)

Professional Activities

Recent Awards and Achievements

  • (2015) Jo-Anne Duggan Prize (highly commended): Australian Centre for Italian Studies (ACIS)
  • (2015) Best PhD Presentation: Department of Geography, University of Otago(ISPA)



Penny, G., Logan, A., Olin, C. V., O’Sullivan, K. C., Robson, B., Pehi, T., Davies, C., Wall, T., & Howden-Chapman, P. (2024). A Whakawhanaungatanga Māori wellbeing model for housing and urban environments. Kōtuitui. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/1177083X.2023.2293988

Howden-Chapman, P., Crane, J., Keall, M., Pierse, N., Baker, M. G., Cunningham, C., … Aspinall, C., Bennett, J., Bierre, S., … Chisholm, E., Davies, C., Fougere, G., Fraser, B., Fyfe, C., Grant, L., … Halley, C., Logan-Riley, A., … Olin, C., Ombler, J., O'Sullivan, K., Pehi, T., Penny, G., … Randal, E., … Robson, B., Ruru, J., Shaw, C., … Teariki, M. A., Telfar Barnard, L., Tiatia, R., Toy-Cronin, B., … Viggers, H., … Zhang, W. (2024). He Kāinga Oranga: Reflections on 25 years of measuring the improved health, wellbeing and sustainability of healthier housing. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 54(3), 290-315. doi: 10.1080/03036758.2023.2170427

Chisholm, E., Olin, C., Randal, E., Witten, K., & Howden-Chapman, P. (2023). Placemaking and public housing: The state of knowledge and research priorities. Housing Studies. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/02673037.2023.2206799

Olin, C. V., & Thompson-Fawcett, M. (2023). ‘Just right’ urbanism? Beyond communitarian ideals in Stockholm’s compact neighbourhoods. Journal of Urbanism, 16(3), 358-379. doi: 10.1080/17549175.2021.2005116

Olin, C. V., & Thompson-Fawcett, M. (2022). At ease in the city: Neighbourhood as an extension of the cosy Swedish home. Wellbeing, Space & Society, 3, 100114. doi: 10.1016/j.wss.2022.100114

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