School of Design

Postgraduate research student profiles


Katia Defendi

Phone: (+61 8) 6488 1881


Start date

Feb 2014

Submission date

Feb 2020

Curriculum vitae

Katia Defendi CV
[doc, 139.53 kb]
Updated 20 Mar 2018

Katia Defendi

Katia Defendi profile photo


Dwelling Detox: Broader Environmental Perspectives of Urban Development


In my post-graduate work I explore the hypothesis that Western Australian residential development and infrastructure is toxic with possible negative long term chronic exposure effects on ecosystems causing adverse loss of amenity for urban dwellers.

I investigate metropolitan Perth planning policy, urban and building design, material selection and construction industry processes for the role they play in creating and changing this situation.

Specifically I study urban drainage and storm water systems as paths by which toxicants in residential development materials can impact ecosystem health.

By re-thinking the ways Perth is planned, designed and built, the city can be re-created towards more holistic ecologically sustainable development aspirations.

Aim: minimise adverse impact of residential development on ecological processes (environment) whilst integrating with economic (profit), and social (personal benefit, well-being) goals.

Outcome: give materials, practices and procedures of residential development toxicity scores based on their contribution to storm water pollution, their impact on ecosystem health, and loss of amenity to urban dwellers.

Why my research is important

Global Scale:

More than half of the world’s population lives in urban centres and this is a growing trend, pointing to increased consumption of buildings and infrastructure, and reinforcing the importance of architecture and urban design in creating ecologically sustainable cities.

The social success of urban centres is provided by the economy which is underpinned by environmental services of: amenity, resource base, waste sink, and fundamental life-support system. When the air, or soil, or water in and around urban centres are no longer able to assimilate the waste of human activity the consequences are environmental damage with repercussions for both society and economy.

National Scale:

In 1992 the Australian Government issued the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) correlating human activity to environment and biodiversity protection. The urban and transport planning sector was challenged to make sustainable use of energy and natural resources.

Today, the fulfillment of objectives 6.1 to 6.3 relating to reduced fossil fuels use and carbon dioxide emissions can be observed in energy efficiency construction industry practices.

The implementation of objective 6.4 is less progressed. It calls “to improve the safety and aesthetic amenity of urban areas, provide clean air, land and water, and (...) encourage action by local governments to retain and improve natural ecosystems, within urban areas” (National Strategy for ESD 1992: Section 2 Chapter 6 Objective 6.4).

My research aims to develop tools by which to aid the implementation of Objective 6.4 into commonplace construction industry practices.


  • Commonwealth of Australia Research Training Programme Scholarship
  • Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) Scholar and Top-up Scholarship