Mathew has played senior and pivotal roles for major development companies throughout Australia and around the world. It has certainly been a privilege and a pleasure working with him towards great architectural and urban design outcomes. He leads by example and has that rare ability to command deep respect from peers at all levels of a corporate environment. Three particular experiences working with him come to mind…

The first was while Matthew worked at Australand. He managed a competition for a major project of urban renewal in Sydney called Second Ponds Creek. He implored the consultant group to focus on triple bottom line outcomes with particular emphasis on community and sustainability. This approach was embraced by the team and viewed favourably by the Government. The project was awarded to the team based on a strong platform created by Matthew from the outset. His focussed leadership and high commercial principles provided rare exemplar to the team.

Later Matthew invited us to Dubai to undertake a peer review of the new city plan for Nakheel at Dubai Waterfront. Interestingly, his challenge was not to import foreign design strategies on the Dubai landscape but to embrace local and traditional planning techniques and adopt these in the new master plan. He suggested we read about history and culture of Dubai before designing for it and avoid imposing Western ideology upon an ancient land and an ancient people. He was obviously deeply committed to respecting the local culture and it`s environmental expectations. His personal respect for the local community was obvious.

Matthew championed the notion of walkable neighbourhoods. He challenged the dominance of car dependent culture endemic in the developed and developing world. He supported our call to adopt these principles in a residential masterplan at Dubai waterfront in the face of sometimes callous commercial imperatives. The strategy proved highly successful with the project selling out in four days. This was one of the most locally appropriate and successful projects launched in Dubai.

Matthew’s quiet, determined and passionate respect for culture and environment is infectious. His ability to effect change by empowering others with high values is an outstanding attribute. I wish him well in his path to recovery in Dubai and look forward to seeing him retain his position as a highly respected professional and individual.

Karl Fender