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Kali is an architect and researcher working to build equitable, resilient and thriving communities.

Kali Marnane trained and registered as an architect in Queensland, Australia before joining The Anganwadi Project to work on a life-changing project in India in 2016. She moved to Ahmedabad to design and oversee construction of Bholu 15 Preschool in one of the city’s largest informal settlements. This experience motivated Kali to pursue a PhD to question the ways in which the built environment marginalises certain groups of people. Her thesis, The Social, Cultural and Built Environment of Four Informal Settlements in Ahmedabad, uses architectural and ethnographic research methods to outline resident’s needs from their point of view. Research fieldwork, a fellowship to New York with Gehl, and consulting in Brisbane have developed Kali’s skills in observing and analysing public life to identify neighbourhood strengths and opportunities.

As a strong believer in the power of community, Kali is the co-chair of the Emerging Architects and Graduates Network (EmAGN) of the Australian Institute of Architects and co-founder of New Build Brisbane, a network of new studios, trades and consultants shaping the built environment in Queensland. Kali writes, lectures and teaches to continually engage and collaborate with colleagues, students and the public on how to create a positive future for our cities.

Kali is currently based in Brisbane working towards the completion of her PhD. If you’d like to work with Kali on a project that prioritises people and the planet, or you’d like her to speak or write on a particular topic, please send an email here.


Putting people and communities first

Participatory placemaking is critical for the ecological, financial and social sustainability of our cities. Kali designs and facilitates workshops with community groups to understand their perspective on the built environment in a series of fun, creative activities. She is particularly interested in working with people who do not typically have a say in how our cities are designed. Most recently Kali has been working with Year 7 students to articulate a neighbourhood identity for their local area. Together they identified opportunities and threats to building a thriving community.


“I thought everything was really well organised and run… The students were very proud of the photos they produced and it was good to see so many responses from the same small area.”



Cross-disciplinary Research

Kali uses methods from architecture, urban design and ethnography to understand places from different user perspectives and begin problem solving with rigorous research. Currently Kali is writing a PhD on informal settlements in India. Her research employs a qualitative case study approach to examine how people use and value the common spaces of four settlements to identify positive aspects of the environment that can inform the development of disadvantaged communities. Her thesis aims to improve the architectural and planning solutions for relocated or redeveloped informal settlements and understand more broadly how the built environment marginalises certain groups of people. She aims to use this knowledge to make cities and institutional processes more equitable.


Planning and Design

Kali’s design ethos is informed by the people and site affected by the project and led by research, evidence and collaboration. As a registered architect Kali’s experience includes commercial, retail, educational, mixed-use and public projects and crosses scales of briefing, strategy, masterplanning, project management and design. Research and design competitions drive innovation and ability to think beyond the brief to provide better results for clients. Kali creates value for clients by understanding their goals and objectives while asking how the project can contribute to the wider community and environment.