Samantha Chouhury – staff profile
Samantha is a city maker, urban planner and placemaking specialist, passionate about creating places for people. She has over 15 years experience working in local and state government, the private and not-for-profit sector within cities across the globe. She joined CoDesign Studio in late 2018, returning to Melbourne fresh from the USA after managing a business improvement district in Chicago, Illinois.
What’s your favourite place in the world and why?
I’ve lived in many places, Paris, New York, Chicago and Melbourne. But my favourite place is my local cafe the Windsor Deli. It used to be our local milk bar. I grew up going to it as a child, buying lollies and getting milk. I’ve lived in the neighbourhood my whole life, and 15 years ago it was converted into a sandwich and coffee shop. When my twins were born, I lived in the house next door. They would drop off coffee and food when I was sleep deprived. It really is a gathering place for the whole neighbourhood, where we have met all our neighbours, started friendships, yet are still able to get milk, eggs and the newspaper.
Three generations of my family have used it, and we do on a daily/weekly basis so it has to be my favourite place!
Why does placemaking matter?
It matters because people make places. Over time, people, rituals, connections and life have been designed out of the built environment process, creating places that make look nice in a magazine but lack in character or community. Allowing people and communities to co-create, co-design and leave their fingerprints on a place, makes them richer, inclusive, liveable and more equitable.
What does belonging mean to you?
Belonging can occur wherever you feel at home and secure. You don’t necessarily need to have been born in a place or lived for many years.
It’s about place attachment – where you put down roots and build friendships, networks and memories.
What project changed your life?
Working with the EPA (Environmental Protection Authority) on creating a poem and artwork for their new building. Through the engagement process we co-designed a stunning large scale mural with Pandarosa, did a fun, place-based fit out for the ground floor lobby, and created a 60-foot long poem/pledge wall. I sometimes forget that I wrote that!
What was the last thing you read?
Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales. A book about blindsides, resilience and what happens after the worst day of your life.
Making laser cut, acrylic jewellery! I had a label called Gertrude St, named after the street I grew up on in Windsor, and also because it’s the street where the best independent fashion is on a mainstreet in Melbourne!