• we help you to create ecological cities




    Learn how to build ecological cities from the people who created an actual piece of ecological city.


    The Ecocity Design Institute offers consulting along with keynote presentations by world leading ecocity architect, theorist and practitioner, Dr Paul Downton.


    Our team pioneered the legendary Halifax EcoCity Project which led to the realisation of the influential Christie Walk ecocity project in downtown Adelaide, South Australia.


    Our expertise is based on decades of research and real world experience in building a piece of ecological city in the heart of the city, through a community-driven development process.


  • Ecocity Design Update


    The Ecocity Design Institute is currently working towards publication of ‘The Fractal Handbook for Urban Evolutionaries’, a slim, funky volume that will explain the concept of the urban fractal and paths to its implementation for remaking cities around the world as ecological cities.


  • What We Do


    Christie Walk is a model ecological cohousing development in central Adelaide, Australia. It consists of 27 dwellings on a 2,000 square metre site. Designed by architect Paul Downton and completed in 2006, it has won international awards and been featured as a case study in the Australian government's technical guide to sustainable building.



    The Halifax Ecocity Project was a proposal for a 2.4 hectare site in the heart of Adelaide. Though never realised, it generated sustained international interest and was accepted by the UN as an example of Best Practice for exhibition at Habitat II: The United Nations City Summit in Istanbul in 1996.  



    Paul Downton is author of many publications and articles. His seminal work Ecopolis: Architecture and cities for a changing climate was published in 2009, with a Chinese edition in preparation. 


    Meet the Ecocity Design Team

    Dr Paul F Downton

    Architect, Author, Urban Evolutionary

    BSc(Hons) BArch(Wales) PhD Architect





    Paul is a prize-winning architect, writer, international speaker, green building and ecocity pioneer and early advocate for action on climate change.


    He is a senior consultant on ecocity design for government and private Chinese organisations and has served as an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Adelaide. Paul has taught subjects including urban ecology, ecological architecture, urbanism and design at universities and educational institutions in Wales, Jordan, Australia, the US and China.


    His projects include keynote green buildings for Adelaide Zoo and the Australian National University, the iconic Halifax EcoCity Project and the internationally awarded Christie Walk development.


    Paul is a Stewardship Council Member of the International Ecocity Framework and Standards Advisory Committee and is a regular contributor to The Nature of Cities. A primary author since its inception in 2001, he was editor of three editions of the Australian Federal government's ‘Your Home’ Technical Manual and a reviewer and contributing expert for development of the NABERS Building Environmental Rating System.


    Founder of Urban Ecology Australia in 1991, his vision of ecological cities is supported by years of working with communities. In 1989 Paul founded Australia’s first community organisation focused on climate change and he was a State finalist for the 2008 Australian of the Year Awards. With a doctorate in environmental studies and over 30 years teaching architecture, Paul is acknowledged as a world leader in ecocity theory.


    His seminal work Ecopolis: Architecture and cities for a changing climate was published in 2009 and he is currently working on various books and educational programs about ecocities, as well as projects in China, New Zealand and Australia. Paul fervently hopes that his grandchildren will be able to survive on the planet we’ve bequeathed them.




    Cherie Hoyle

    Taking Care of Business

    Ecocity Activist and Community Organiser





    Cherie Hoyle is an accomplished community organiser with decades of experience. She co-convened Urban Ecology Australia in 1991, organised and ran the Second International Ecocity Conference in Adelaide in 1992, and ran the Centre for Urban Ecology (the home of the Halifax Ecocity Project and Christie Walk) from 1993-99.


    She has held management positions with Trees for Life, served on the executive of the Conservation Council of South Australia, and represented UEA on the Federal National Air Toxics Steering Committee and Air Toxics Indoor Air Quality working group.


    In 1991, Paul Downton, Cherie Hoyle and Emilis Prelgauskas established Urban Ecology Australia, a community based NGO which advocates for ecological cities through education and example.


    Throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, Paul and Cherie led a volunteer team of citizens, professionals and students, including Sharon Ede, in initiating the Halifax Ecocity Project, and subsequently creating Christie Walk, a piece of ecological city in downtown Adelaide, South Australia.


    The Halifax Ecocity Project was a proposal for a 2.4 hectare site in the heart of Adelaide. Though never realised, it generated sustained international interest and was accepted by the UN as an example of Best Practice for exhibition at Habitat II: The United Nations City Summit in Istanbul in 1996.


    Christie Walk is a model ecological cohousing development in central Adelaide, Australia. It consists of 27 dwellings on a 2,000 square metre site. Designed by architect Paul Downton and completed in 2006, it has won international awards and been featured as a case study in the Australian government's technical guide to sustainable building, and in the series 'Density By Design', a web series produced as part of a broader research project on low-carbon residential precincts being undertaken by the Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute (WA) and the Co-operative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living.


    Christie Walk - Density By Design
    Density by Design Photo Essay

    Interview with Christie Walk architect Paul F Downton



    Paul Downton accepts the Tehran International Award in recognition of Christie Walk at the 6th International Research and Innovation Festival on Urban Management in Tehran, 2013


    International Winner, Tehran International Award, 6th International Research and Innovation Festival on Urban Management, 2013



    National Winner, Christie Walk Ecocity Project – Inner-city Sustainable Housing Development, ENERGY GLOBE Award, 2009.


    Silver Prize in the international Ryutaro Hashimoto Asia Pacific Forum for Environment and Development (APFED) Awards for Good Practice (an international environment and development award), 2006


    Finalist in the international Building and Social Housing Foundation (BSHF) World Habitat Awards, 2005

    Short documentary about Christie Walk and its residents
    A more in-depth look at Adelaide's 'piece of ecocity'

    Paul Downton has given keynote, plenary and workshop presentations on six continents and has extensive experience consulting on ecological architectural, urban design, planning and related projects.


    To engage Paul for speaking engagements and consultancy services, please contact: paul@ecopolis.com.au

    screen grab of talk and link to youtube vid of presentation

    Paul Downton speaking at TEDxEQCHCH in 2011, a special TED event which was convened after the earthquake that devastated Christchurch, New Zealand



    Ecocity World Summit, Melbourne, AUSTRALIA, July 2017


    Ecocity World Summit, Abu Dhabi, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: 2015


    Focus 7 Global Conference, Chantilly, FRANCE: 2015


    Zhuhai International Livable City Conference on Promoting the New Urbanization, International Liveability: Australia & Zhuhai, liveable cities & eco-city principles, Zhuhai, CHINA: 2014


    The Tenth International Conference on Green and Energy-Efficient Building & New Technologies, Space, Connections & Community, BEIJING: 2014


    Tehran Urban Planning & Research Center Seminar, Christie Walk & Urban Fractals, Tehran, IRAN: 2013


    Euro-Asia Economic Forum, Science & Technology Sub-forum, Urban Fractals & Pocket Neighbourhoods – The building blocks of eco-cities, Xi’an, CHINA: 2013


    Architecture Week Keynote, Urban Fractals – Shaping the future a neighbourhood at a time, Auckland, NEW ZEALAND: 2012


    Green Building Council of South Africa National Convention, Cape Town, SOUTH AFRICA: 2011


    TEDx EQChCh – Re-imagining Christchurch as a world leading city, Christchurch, NEW ZEALAND: 2011


    9th Green Building Conference, Sydney, AUSTRALIA: 2011


    Gaining Ground – The Power of Green Cities to Shape the Future, Vancouver, CANADA: 2010


    1st International Conference on Low Carbon Ecological Habitat & Ecological Health, Haikou, CHINA: 2010


    Senior Forum of Ecocity Construction, Nanjing, CHINA: 2009


    International Ecopolis Forum, Huaibei, CHINA: 2009


    World ECO2008 (World Environment and Climate Outlook 2008), Brasilia, BRAZIL: 2008


    Beijing International Forum on Ecological Restoration, Beijing, CHINA: 2008


    Ecocity World Summit – Ecocity 7, San Francisco, USA: 2008


    Ecopolis Forum 2004 – International Forum on Adaptive Ecopolis Development to Meet the Challenge of Fast Urbanization, Ningbo City, CHINA: 2004


    Ecopolis – Visions & Means, Christchurch, NEW ZEALAND: 2004


    The Fifth International Ecocity Conference, Shenzhen, CHINA: 2002


    EcoCity IV – Fourth International EcoCity Conference, Curitiba, BRAZIL: 2000


    Green Building Challenge 98, Vancouver, CANADA: 1998


    20th International Conference on Making Cities Livable, Sante Fe, USA: 1997


    Ecological Cities, Towards a Sustainable Development, Padova, ITALY: 1995


    Community Sustainability Across America, Washington DC, USA: 1993


    Partnerships for Change, Manchester, ENGLAND: 1993


    EcoCity 2 - Second International EcoCity Conference, Adelaide, AUSTRALIA: 1992


    Architecture of Cities International Conference, Calcutta, INDIA: 1990


    First International EcoCity Conference, Berkeley, California, USA: 1990

    Paul Downton was invited to speak at Global Conference 2015 in Chantilly, France in July 2015 on 'An urbanism built on a priority for fauna and flora.' (Paul begins speaking at 12 minutes, and again at 1 hour 28 minutes)


    Cities’ landscape are part of the stakes of tomorrow, a geomorphological body in which we must reconnect the city and territories, and reveal them both from inside et outside, via a better mobility and ecological corridors, looking for a thermic revolution. Beyond the ecological and sustainable reality, the main issue of urban development is linked to mankind, and there we must draw our political project for tomorrow. How to reveal the urban biological treasure?

    - Paul F. DOWNTON, Urban Architect, Ecopolis (Australia)
    - Christian DUBOST, Sustainable Development Director, SNCF (France)
    - Bill DUNSTER, Architect; Founder, ZEDfactory (United Kingdom)
    - Carlos MORENO, ‎Scientific Adviser to the Chief Executive Officer, COFELY INEO (France)

    - Nicolas BUCHOUD, Co-founder and Principal partner, Renaissance Urbaine; Chair, The Grand Paris Alliance (France)




    If you would like to enquire about keynote speaking engagements or have a general question, please get in touch via the contact form below.


    with Ecocity Design on social media










    A healthy city needs healthy buildings. This is one of the earliest and best sources for good information on healthy buildings. Healthy buildings are probably more important in the long run than 'energy efficient' buildings. Energy efficiency does not pre-suppose, nor require, healthy building, but long term human sustainability absolutely does.


    Brilliant resource - best thing the federal government has ever done! Tremendous work by some inspired and knowledgeable people working in and through government. Urban Ecology Australia and Paul Downton were pleased to be part of the effort of bringing this into existence. Paul was one of the main contributors and was editor for four issues.. Check out this site for massive amounts of accessible information on healthy, energy efficient, ecologically responsible building aimed at home owners and occupiers.



    Urban Ecology Australia co-founder Chérie Hoyle worked with Urban Ecology Australia, Adelaide City Council and the South Australian state government to produce a Green Map for the City of Adelaide back in 1997. This is still an active international movement to map the positive attributes of our cities – essential to making ecocities real. Great stuff.



    For many years, the Gaia Trust has supported the Global Ecovillage Network and Gaia Education.

    GreenCityBlueLake Institute



    The GreenCityBlueLake Institute has had a long and influential history of research and publication, dating back to the founding of its preceding organization, EcoCity Cleveland, in 1992.

    Paul Downton received an email from Teacher Rachel Martin who, she wrote, volunteers with a very special group of children in a Summer education program. They had been learning about the concepts of environmentalism and somehow came across a very old link on one of Paul's now redundant websites while discussing how they could can protect our environment. 
    One of her girls, Cathy, found what she thought was a great environmental resource and Paul promised to upload a link! So here it is, It's about batteries – the scourge of our lives with a massive impact on our beleaguered planet.

    A lot of 'green roofs' and walls are resource-expensive thirsty aesthetic indulgences, but this looks like it might be really good.


    “Our fresh produce will be used to feed the inhabitants across the south-west of the city – either directly, through veg-box schemes or via shops, hotels and canteens – thereby helping to reduce food miles,” Hardy says. “Furthermore, we won’t be using any pesticides or chemicals, so the farm will be a haven for biodiversity.”


    Trés bon!