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Our team

Gilbert Rochecouste
Founder and Managing Director


Gilbert is recognised locally and internationally as a leading voice in placemaking, regenerative practice and the creation of vibrant, resilient and loved places.


He is a sought after speaker and skilled facilitator for community and stakeholder engagement activities and has worked with over 2,000 cities, towns, mainstreets and communities over the past 25 years.

Gilbert founded the contemporary placemaking consulting industry when he launched Village Well 30 years ago. Gilbert continues to lead a multi-disciplinary team of placemakers, researchers and designers.


Gilbert co-founded the new EPOCH Foundation promoting the adoption of business ethics. He has been on the boards of Ross House, Donkey Wheel House Trust and Hub Australia.

Emma Hall
Director of Placemaking


Emma is trained in Architecture and Urban Design and has experience in social and affordable housing, heritage, strategic council work and academics.


She has completed her Masters in Architecture and received the University Medal for her work.


Emma knows that evidence-based, community-led design can lead to more inclusive urban spaces, and can positively impact the wellbeing of people and the environment.


Quality place-based design can help change our world for the better, and Emma has a specific interest in the benefits of placemaking in social housing. When not at Village Well, you can find Emma coaching soccer for disadvantaged women in our communities. 

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Jennifer Cook
Retail and commercial Advisor

Jennifer is a commercial placemaking leader, supporting clients to transform their assets into resilient, high-performing and loved places.   Creating successful destinations and experiences for over 20 years, Jennifer brings the customer to the decision-making table with a research-based approach to navigating change and finding the opportunities in industry disruption.


A skilled facilitator, strategist and stakeholder engagement specialist, she has walked in the shoes of commercial owner/developer, cultural curator, city marketer, brand manager and industry advocate, and knows how to align a diverse group of stakeholders to a common goal.


Jennifer’s clients include Australia’s top property companies, and her results-focused and industry-leading strategies have won national and international awards. 

Jennifer partners with Village Well on select projects that can benefit from her expertise.

Sally Ngai


Sally Ngai is a retail placemaker who has a background in visual merchandising, trader engagement and retail business advisory.


She is experienced in tactical urbanism and activation to attract visitation to create vibrant ground plane experiences. She is a studious researcher and brings attention to detail in everything she does.

Sally leads shopfront presentation advisory and supports mixed-use and commercial placemaking projects.

Shahmeena Labeeb

Shahmeena has a Masters of Architecture with a background in interior architecture. She draws inspiration from her professional experience in architecture and design, aiding her in becoming a skilled placemaker. Her work centers on enhancing the human experience by creating environments that resonate deeply with people. She takes pride in crafting memorable and attractive places that stand the test of time and are cherished by those who inhabit them

Cristina Hernandez

Cristina is a placemaker, ecologist and designer who aims to support ‘place’ for both humans and non-humans to coexist. Specifically, she is drawn to participatory design embedding more-than-human to increase the resilience of our urban areas.

She completed a Master in Environment at the University of Melbourne and is currently pursuing her PhD at RMIT where she has interrogated mainstream design practice culture to identify opportunities for biodiversity inclusivity.

Cris knows that designing for biodiversity and for everyday nature experiences is critical to highly liveable and high-quality place-based design. 

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Kim Barker
Placemaking Support - TAS

Kim has over 30 years’ of client and consultant experience in the building and construction industry as a business owner, developer, design consultant and capital project manager.  She is committed to the importance of place-making in shaping the built environment and is strongly influenced by evidence that placemaking connects people to place and each other which has a direct correlation to happiness and wellbeing. 

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Bruce Gorring
Specialist Advisor
Planning, Environment & Community

Bruce is a kartiya (non-Indigenous person in Kimberley kriol) of European and Chinese heritage.

He is profoundly interested in Country-centred urban planning and design, bio-cultural management, community development, and entrepreneurial innovation - examined through a critical social justice lens.


Bruce has collaborated with Australian First Nations peoples, all tiers of government, entrepreneurs and business leaders, peak industry groups, the responsible investment and finance sector, and world-renowned academics to deliver strength-based design, policy and project outcomes.

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Steve Ray

Specialist Advisor

Culture & Facilitation


Steve has worked in the environmental and social change movement for more than 30 years.  During that time, he has worked in and for national, state and local Government, corporate and not-for-profit organizations.

He has worked with the Groupwork Centre as a facilitator and trainer since 2008.


His experience in emotional resilience, facilitation, conflict resolution and collaborative decision making form a major part of his work in training and consultancy with work teams and groups of many kinds. Organisations routinely report significant and profound shifts in their working culture after attending these workshops. The learning is often transformational because it uncovers and shifts the unconscious patterns of behavior which form a major part of our make-up.

Dominique Hes
Specialist Advisor
Regenerative Partner

Dr. Dominique Hes is an award-winning author, collaborator, researcher and academic working in the areas of regenerative development, placemaking, biophilia, urban greenery, sustainable development and all areas that look at using human ingenuity to address the messy, complex problems in our cities.


With degrees in Botany, Process Engineering and Architecture, Dominique brings an interdisciplinary approach, 20 built projects, and governance experience to all of her work.  Dominique developed and directed Place Agency for 3 years, working with 7 universities, 20 or more practitioners, and many councils.    

Renae Portwine
Graphic Designer

Renae believes ‘a good design is worth a thousand words’, and has so for the past 18 years as a freelance graphic designer. Creating individual communications that speak to a clients audience and appeal to their creative vision is her brief.
 So she lets her creativity speak for itself.


Through collaboration with a diverse range of clients and industries from tourism, government initiatives, community events, shire councils to local traders, she creates meaningful designs that are organic and intuitive in nature, fun, quirky and indeed inspirational.

Never one for down time, you will find her running the tracks and trails of her local area and places she visits.

Our partner
  • Placemaking X

  • CLES

  • Regenesis

  • Ross House

  • Common Ground

  • Ethical Property

  • Hub Australia

  • Donkey Wheel House

  • Mainstreet Australia

  • Place Leaders

  • Project for Public Spaces

  • CNU

  • Shareable

  • Permaculture Australia

  • Utopies Paris

  • B-Hive Bendigo

  • Place Score

  • Neighbourlytics

  • Town Teams 

we support
  • Abbotsford Convent

  • Common Ground

  • Youthrive

  • Skyline Foundation

  • Donkey Wheel Foundation

  • LEAD Loddon Murray Leadership Program

  • B-Hive Bendigo

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