With large-scale urban projects underway and more in the pipeline in prime locations along Sydney’s harbour foreshore, Sydneysiders have got the right to ask what should its city look like and offer its people in the future. The University of Sydney will stage the first Festival of Urbanism from Wednesday 15 October to start a broader public conversation on how to better plan Sydney for the future.
Chair of Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Sydney, Peter Phibbs said: “Sydney is a fast growing global city. Large scale urban development projects – what we are calling megaprojects – such as the recently announced Bays Precinct, provide some fantastic opportunities for the city, but also carry a lot of risks. We only get one opportunity to get these projects right. Unfortunately there is a large number of Australian and international examples where these megaprojects have been fairly dismal failures.
“We have a lot we can learn from other cities around the world about best practices in urban planning to building a vibrant, world-class city,” he said.
The Festival of Urbanism, which runs until 6 November, will feature a series of lectures, panel discussions, Q&A forums and film screenings held at the University of Sydney and key CBD venues over three weeks.
Co-convener of the Festival, Associate Professor Rod Simpson, Director of the Urbanism Program at the University of Sydney, said: “We are interested in how an open-ended discussion and multiple viewpoints can be made available to the public using a web platform to raise the level of debate about urban issues. We think the public is interested in the detail and tensions in the development process, and we need new means of engagement and discussion.”
Local and international urbanism experts will spearhead many events, presenting case studies and research that will provide ‘food for thought’ on the best way forward for rolling out the megaprojects like Barangaroo and the Bays Precinct in the future.
An international expert headlining the festival is Singapore-based Professor Stephen Cairns from the Future Cities Laboratory at the Singapore-ETH Centre – a Singapore-Zurich collaboration responsible for shaping the research agenda to better understand and actively respond to the challenges of global environmental sustainability.
At the Sydney Town Hall on 5 November, Cairns will explore the principles of the ‘open-city’, reflecting on the master planning and delivery of Hamburg’s Hafencity - Europe’s largest inner-city development project, and the blueprint for the development of a European city on the waterfront. He will be joined by a local panel that will discuss how the design approach for Hafencity might apply to urban renewal projects like the Bays Precinct.
On 23 October US-based Emily Talen from Arizona State University will deliver a talk about designing a city for social diversity. Learning from good and bad experiences in the US and elsewhere, Talen’s presentation will look at how to deliver both diversity and density in urban renewal projects.
Turning to Australian case studies, Dr Kate Shaw, an Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow from the University of Melbourne, will point to the Melbourne Docklands to examine the motivations for urban renewal in Australia and the lessons learnt in her lecture on 21 October.
In a panel discussion on what the plan should be for the Bays Precinct, Dr Kate Shaw will be joined by the Hon. Craig Knowles from the Planning Research Centre, Associate Professor Kurt Iveson from the University of Sydney, CEO David Pitchford from UrbanGrowth NSW, and local community representatives to discuss numerous options. The audience will be invited to cast their vote for and against key ideas during the discussion on 20 October.
Other hot topics on the festival program include health issues surrounding high-rises, the impact of the GFC on the UK, Ireland and the US housing markets and city planning, and alternative approaches to funding urban infrastructure.
Throughout the festival, an online conversation will invite members of the public to also have their say on the Bays Precinct Urban Development Project. Join the conversation at www.festivalofurbanism.com/onlineforum
To see the full festival program and to register for events visit www.festivalofurbanism/events
For conversation updates follow the Festival on twitter @FestUrbanism - #megaprojects.
The Festival of Urbanism is organised by the University of Sydney with the support of the Henry Halloran Trust and the Cities Network.
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