firstÂ edition springÂ 2016
note from the editor Welcome to the first edition of commotion, the journal of urbanistas. We have been talking about this idea for a while now and with spring finally here and our 4th birthday celebrations in the air we thought it was the right time to start by starting! This magazine is all about amplifying the voice of women, we want it to be written by women, about women, for women. We want it to capture the excitement that is in the air when we get together and to give you something to dive into when you feel you need inspiration. We want you to share it with others, talk about it in the tea room and casually leave it on public transport so others can hear us. We really want your contributions as well, don’t be shy and write us a piece about something you are involved in, want to get involved in or think is awesome. Why not share your pitch so members across the world can help out or tell us about an event/exhibition/happening that you think urbanistas should know about. Most of all, we hope you enjoy it. Kate startacommotion.co.uk
in this edition... Jackie Sadek reveals her best and worst job and how her idea of relaxation is poking around a regeneration project... Liane Hartley remembers Zaha Hadid. Rachel Fisher contemplates Urbanistas the Musical. April McCabe discusses the idea of respectful disruption as DIY urbanism... Laura Wynne unpicks the social engineering of regeneration in inner city Waterloo, and Bryony Simcox spends 36 hours with us in her new home, Sydney.
Comix Creatrix: 100 Women Making Comics at the House of Illustration until 15 May 2016 The UK’s largest ever exhibition of the work of pioneering female comics artists including work from Marie Duval and Tove Jansson to Posy Simmonds, Audrey Niffenegger and Nina Bunjevac. The exhibition also has a killer catalogue that you can download for free from SEQUENTIAL, the graphic novel app. www.houseofillustration.or g.uk 2 Granary Square, King's Cross London N1C 4BH
We are Cardiff Dismayed by the stereotypical portrayal of Cardiff as a city for hen and stag dos and sporting events, freelance writer Helia Phoenix and her friends set up We Are Cardiff in 2010. They tell the stories of ordinary Cardiff folk, share alternative cultural news and recently launched a sister publishing company in We Are Cardiff Press headed up by Hana Johnson. Get a copy of their recently published "The 42b" short stories about characters hopping off the 42 (fictional) bus on a cold, bright Saturday morning.
Redraw the balance Inspiring the Future recently commissioned an advertisement to raise awareness of gender prejudice. The twominute film shows 3 women asking 20 children aged between five and seven to draw a firefighter, a surgeon and a fighter pilot. Out of the 66 pictures drawn, only five depicted a woman in those roles. The three women who surveyed the children then leave the classroom and return in their uniforms, revealing themselves to be a firefighter, an NHS surgeon, and RAF pilot. You can catch it on youtube, just search for redraw the balance.
Amy Murphy from the University of Southern California has contributed a reading list to Place Journal's ongoing reading list series entitled Women, Space, and Place: Four Cinematic Pairings. It pairs eight films (including Nausica of the Valley of the Winds, Lost in Translation and Her) with four sets of readings — each examining a different type of ‘space’ women might occupy in the cinema as well as contemporary life. That's Friday night taken care of for a few months then... https://placesjournal.org/r eadinglist/womenspace andplacefourcinematic pairings2/
Despina Stratigakos new book "Where are the Women Architects?" was released in early April. 2016. She examines the past, current, and potential future roles of women in the architecture and discusses how the field has dodged the question of women's absence since the nineteenth century. Stratigakos has written some provocative pieces before (What I learnt from architect barbie) and is a self described feminist, activist historian, so this book is not your typical rant but a thoughtful take on the history of the profession with references to current challenges such as the deletion of posts about female architect on wikipedia.
TaiwaneseAmerican artist Candy Chang public art project Before I Die has been created in over 1,000 cities and over 70 countries, including Iraq, China, Haiti, Kazakhstan, and South Africa. Her website is a treasure trove of inspiration and ideas for "connecting, reflecting and cultivating the health of our communities." She is currently creating a largescale participatory mural in Philadelphia which includes 64 fablelike guides to help people contemplate their lives and destigmatize discussion around mental health. candychang.com photo by Trevor Coe
urbanista q&a : Jackie Sadek Jackie Sadek has been a important voice in regeneration for over 20 years. She was the head of regeneration at CBRE, was part of the site aquisition team at Tesco pioneering the 'homes above shops' format during the 90s and launched her own development company, UKRegeneration, building homes designed for long term rental. She rather brilliantly referred to volume house builders as 'shits' in the Architectural Journal and has been a loud supporter of urbanistas since our inception. We asked her to help us get the ball rolling in this first issue and here is how she responded. What did you want to be when you were growing up? It’s probably difficult to believe this, but I was quite a shy and withdrawn kid. My mother sent me to speech and drama classes for years, from when I was just seven, to try to “draw me out” (must have worked huh?). And I grew up wanting to be an actress (what would now be known, quite rightly, as “an actor”) but that didn’t last much past my early teens. By the time I got to University it had faded completely and then I didn’t know what on earth I wanted to do. I guess the best thing I did at University was to get elected as the President of the Students Union (one wag once said “yeah and she’s been the president of the students union ever politics; it all stood me in good stead.
Where do you come up with your best ideas? Probably on the tube. I am a notorious workaholic. I am thinking, thinking, thinking, all the time. Jabbing stuff into my BlackBerry as it occurs. Which living person do you most admire, and why? That is easy. Michael Heseltine. Can you imagine what it is like to walk at a desk just outside his office door, as I now do? And it will be obvious to all Urbanistas as to why: he is the Daddy of Urban Regeneration, simple as that. And he is as great up close as he is from afar. Far from being a disappointment. I apologise that I haven’t picked a woman, so as a supplementary I will also add the
the name of my great mentor, Sue Slipman, also a veteran student politician, just a weeny bit older than me. The first time I ever met her it was at a large meeting she was addressing and I’d asked a question; she came up to me afterwards and said “I don’t know who you are, and everything you said was wrong, but you are going to be GREAT”. I felt quite seriously that I’d been touched by the hand of an angel. There is a lesson here: if you see a young woman of promise you must always go and tell her that you are impressed by her and offer encouragement. How do you relax? I’m not very good at relaxing really. I’m the sad woman who on her deathbed will say “I wish I’d spent more time at the office”. My best idea of fun is poking around a regeneration project. And that is the truth. I guess I could also venture nice hot baths with salts and oils, massages and facials, reflexology that kind of thing. I’m not adverse to a bit of pampering. But hey! A stomp around Grimsby or Nuneaton would always be recreation of choice for me. What books are beside your bed? Currently I am reading Bill Clinton’s autobiography, but it has been so sanitised as to be rather a dull read and I am struggling with it. I suppose it goes with the territory. Michael Heseltine’s biography is still there from when I was reading it last year (it is a good read, but Michael Crick’s biography of the Daddy is more of a page turner). My favourite novel ever is “Pride and Prejudice” (isn’t everybody’s?) and I can
get something new out of it every time I read it. Robert Caro’s “The Power Broker” I can dip into at any time (actually I have to admit a sneaking respect of Robert Moses really. I know he was totally wrong about everything but he sure got things done; something I should never admit this to, among we disciples of Jane Jacobs, but there you go). What album or artist would provide the ideal soundtrack to your day? I lurve the Doors. Any of the albums. Such poetry. Or Neil Young. Sorry I am showing my age. I am not sure I would want any of them as a soundtrack to my day though, I would probably need something a bit more energising. I will welcome advice when the film is being made. What has been your best job? I could volunteer a few really, but I guess the ones that I invented for myself were always the best. There is nothing like forging the culture you want from the getgo. I am very proud of my six years as CEO of the Paddington Regeneration Partnership which I founded in 1998 (now the Paddington Waterside Partnership, led admirably by Kay Buxton, one place where I managed to get the succession planning right). And I from 2010 I was CEO of UK Regeneration the company I founded as the legacy vehicle of BURA. UKR has been a rocky ride, but one I wouldn’t have missed for the world. …And worst job? Again, I have a few to pick from. I will skip over the dispiriting weeks I spent
meat packing in Safeway (showing my age again) or when I was a bingo caller in the Mecca, Richmond (nothing much more terrifying than the afternoon bingo crowd). I would probably choose as my worst job my ghastly sojourn as the CEO of Kent Thameside, a “Local Delivery Body” in the Thames Gateway in the early noughties. That was the apotheosis of the worst sort of top down, process driven, organisation, invented by civil servants under pressure from politicians, without any recourse whatsoever to what happens in the real world. Totally symptomatic of those times. Sclerotic and wasteful in the extreme. Kent Thameside was supposed to deliver 30,000 new homes and 50,000 new jobs at Ebbsfleet and the surrounding area of North Kent. Had anyone asked the local people? No, of course not. Were the land owners going to deliver the government’s objectives? No, of course not. Did the market believe in any of it? No, of course not. I realised within weeks that it was totally undeliverable. I did my very very best to fundamentally change things. And then finally resigned, as a matter of honour, after 16 months of running into the sand. I still bear the scars. And when civil servants come around to me now seeking help in delivering Ebbsfleet, I am afraid I have to tell them there is simply nothing I can do. What are your most proud of? I am hugely proud of UKR, the company I founded with Jason Blain back in 2010
and which is going to undertake some serious disruption of the housing industry over the next couple of years. I intend to show the industry that a decent quality built environment can be delivered in a commercial way. And that the volume house building model is not the answer to housing our communities. My ambition is to make the rest of you proud of me too.
remembering Zaha (1950 – 2016) The world was shocked when on 31st March 2016 Dame Zaha Hadid passed away in Miami, US aged just 65. No sooner had reports surfaced of her passing than tributes began to flood in from around the world, marking her incredible design talent and inimitable persona. As an IraqiBritish female architect Hadid was always going to stand out in an industry dominated by white male “starchitects”. Yet her personal style, uncompromising views on the state of contemporary architectural design and her own sensuous and futuristic designs underpinned the fact that there was a bit more to Hadid than this. She was quite simply a formidable, bloody architect.
I first encountered Zaha Hadid as a teenager growing up in the centre of Cardiff. In the 1990’s. Cardiff was having a renaissance and revitalising its Cardiff Bay area, after the heyday of the docks industry. We needed an opera house fit for the welsh tradition of song and culture. An international architectural design competition was held to select the design which attracted the likes of Rem Koolhaus and Norman Foster + Partners. Hadid won the competition. Not once or even twice; but the three times that the competition was commissioned and recommissioned. I remember the buzz and excitement of my home city being the focus of the international design attention and spent hours in the local library gazing at the models and drawings that had been submitted. It wasn’t difficult for me to see why Hadid’s design had won; it was stunning. I felt enormous pride and excitement that this “Crystal Necklace” was going to be built here. Finally Cardiff was going to be put on the map – for other reasons that being a good place (the best in fact) to watch a game of Rugby. Except it didn’t get built, did it. A fundamental lack of balls, vision and integrity conspired to kill the design and the concept of an opera house for Cardiff, and Wales. This was dressed up in pathetic facade of “economic viability” but the real problem lay with a fundamental inability to recognise a good thing when we saw it. And a paranoia that elitist architecture was being imposed on us from London. Zaha was philosophical: “Give them time and space to understand. The problem is that people in this country have seen so much garbage for so long they think life is a Tesco. When the highest aspiration is to make a supermarket, then you have a problem.” Her designs for Cardiff Opera House were actually better spent on the now globally critically acclaimed Gangzhou Opera House. And in the words of Jim Bowen, this is what we could have won…..Whilst Cardiff ended up with the quite beautiful Wales Millennium Centre – it isn’t quite the same. I remember the furore surrounding the rejection of the design and the decision in late 1995 to eventually can the project. I was embarrassed at the lack of ambition and fear of the new, and felt we had squandered not only an amazing opportunity to reshape Cardiff and bring it kicking and screaming into the 20th century – but also ashamed of the lack of respect shown to this amazing woman.
Y ears later when collecting her award for the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year 2013, Zaha Hadid remarked on the illfated project which she had won just as she was starting out on her own in the industry. Sadly she could only surmise that the seeming unworldly design was not the whole story – it was also her gender and perception of her as a foreigner that meant it ultimately failed. "Nobody's going to come and tell me: 'We don't want me to get this job because you're a woman'…..But I did come across a lot of resistance and prejudice when I wanted to build the Cardiff (Bay) Opera House.” Zaha Hadid would never claim to be a feminist – or indeed that being a woman was in any way relevant to her work. She didn’t design for women and didn’t claim to represent women architects in any way. And this is why she is important for women. She was a pioneering architect in her own right and she pursued her designs and her work with passion and integrity, seeming oblivious or certainly bemused by the predominance of white men around her. To her it was an irrelevant quirk of the world around her and she simply got on with things in her own unapologetic and irreverent way. This is her legacy to women. To teach us that instead of trying to compete with men, just be brilliant and don’t seek permission and it shouldn’t matter what gender you are. Thanks for everything Zaha.
Liane Hartley is the founder of Urbanistas. @lianemendsacity
urbanistas the musical? I was recently at a very fancy event full of VERY IMPORTANT PEOPLE and one of them confided in me that he had been approached to write a play about housing and planning. I paused. ‘Have you ever written a play before?’ ‘No, but I know a lot of people who have’ Ah. Clearly that’s nearly the same thing. But like all great ideas, it’s been done. To name only a few… There is the incredible verbatim piece Home, by Nadia Fall which was co created with Urbanista extraordinaire Esta Orchard. It was a sellout show at the National Theatre’s Shed in 2013, so much so that they brought it back for a second run. I was privileged to see it twice, with the young people who’s words were used to create the piece in the audience. It was one of the most powerful and effective pieces of theatre I’ve seen in many years. The show traces the lives of young people as they try and sort out their lives in a Foyer in East London. It also has sensitive portrayals of the adults who try and help them along the way to adulthood, and a shockingly powerful message about the impact of budget cuts on these young people’s life chances.
Similarly, I recently saw Lin Manuel Miranda’s Tony and Olivier award winning In the Heights. Think of it as a modern day West Side Story, set in Washington Heights, and where insteadof gang wars you have rising rents forcing people to leave the barrio. It’s a play that explores the twin themes of dislocation and home. Everyone wants to ‘get on and get out’ and at the same time there is a recognition that this place is home. As if that weren’t enough there is the opera A Marvellous Order about the epic battle between Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs. There’s also If/Then a musical about a contemporary urban planner originated on Broadway by none other than Idina Menzel. Good theatre is about tension and change – and therefore what better subject matter than the drama of delivering a new development? The planning system, with its protracted negotiations and deliberately confrontational style provides a cast of characters so rich you couldn’t make them up and the tensions and emotions run high when you talk about housing – where it should go, who it should be for, what it means for the neighbourhood.
Lincoln Centre in New York City. Just before it was built the neighbourhood played host to the filming of West Side Story, the ultimate in musical led regeneration.
And then of course, in the UK context we could just have a two hour play about THE GREENBELT: to build or not to build, THAT is the question, whether tis nobler in the mind to provide homes for horses or humans. So maybe we should write Urbanistas the Musical. About a plucky band of women, who are committed to delivering positive urban change and aren’t afraid to sing about it? Who’s with me? I’ve never written a play… but I know someone who has…
Rachel Fisher is a codirector of urbanistas, head of policy at the National Housing Federation, sometime singer and feminist. @rachelafisher
respectful disruption understanding the pitfalls to realise the power of DIY urbanism I recently gave a guest lecture at the University of New South Wales, about my experience of DIY Urbanism projects in practise, what possibilities they provide and the potential challenges that regulation and rules throw up when trying to deliver these sorts of projects. Across the world, and certainly in Sydney we are seeing more collaborative networks, like Urbanistas popping up and gaining momentum in response to specific issues, a desire to have a collective voice or just simply wanting to connect with likemind people. The rise of the sharing economy and these more social networks are influencing the way that cities are changing and allowing solutions to be born out of a more disruptive, less institutional, more spontaneous and definitely more DIY approach. DIY Urbanism is a legitimate and important part of place making but is also an easy way for anyone to get ‘skin in the game’ and directly influence how their cities evolve and change. I love rolling up my sleeves and getting involved DIY Urbanism projects. Though other groups I am involved in here in in Sydney I have indulged by DIY ‘disruptive’ side and helped deliver projects that aim to delight, but also change behaviours or a perception of
of place. One of these was the painting of a ‘rainbow crossing’ just before Mardi Gras in 2015 (Oxford Street being the heart of Sydney’s LGBTI community) with the Oxford Street Activators. Call me optimistic, but I see these projects as having the power to demonstrate how things can be done differently, positively benefit people and places and create a new normal, rather than continuing with the business as usual approach. But even with all the energy generated by the convergence of a great idea with a collective of enthusiasm, talent and skills, the governance of our cities can be challenging and unintentionally prevent these great ideas from germinating, build barriers to delivering a project, but even more than that, prevent the participation of citizens in how the city grows, changes and is managed. Thinking about all of this and drawing on inspiration from one of my academic spirit guides, David Harvey (political geographer extraordinaire) about the collective right to reshape the process of urbanisation” I tried finding a way to describe this right of citizens to disrupt the norm but also acknowledges the responsibility that comes with this right. Of course when you can’t find what you are looking for, you just make it up.
Respectful Disruption is an “idea, action or project which interrupts or challenges the status quo, with the aim of creating a positive change but is done in a waythat considers the physical, community, economic, cultural, social and political context of the place” DIY projects have the ability to change the way we do things, allow freedom to explore ideas and to experiment, be a catalyst for changing the way we think and respond to changes in our place or community. The concept of ‘respectful disruption’ is providing the space for this ‘out of the box’ thinking, collaboration and innovation and embracing the notion that while nothing is impossible, not every idea is possible the critical variable is understanding the context and being flexible.
The exploration of this idea/concept fuels my interest in cities and my passion for how we can improve citizens involvement in building places and cities, not just via feedback on plans but by encouraging and empowering anyone willing to get some ‘skin in the game’. I suppose that is why Urbanistas is my ‘soul project’. April McCabe is leading the urbanistas charge in Sydney. She is an advisor to the Mayor, drinks far too much coffee and enjoys a chat about cities, politics and sport. @mccabe_april
planting a street oasis in berlin At this time of the year, when our thoughts turns to gardening we thought it might be apt to include some ideas and inspiration. Last summer I went to Berlin for a week and took these photos while I was wandering. These simple gardens were lovingly tended and simply constructed but gave the neighbourhood a welcoming feel and provided a spot for neighbours to meet in the early evening for a beer and a chat. Ed.
the battle for Waterloo rethinking social engineering in inner city Sydney That neighbourhoods should have a diversity of tenure and a mix of incomes has become a mantra for planners and urban designers. This mantra’s associated policy response – renewal of housing estates to achieve ‘social mix’ – serves as a panacea for underfunded public housing estates across the western world. Such principles would be a useful set of objectives to guide the creation of neighbourhoods from scratch. However, it is rare that planners and designers are given a blank slate. Most often, we are working with an existing urban fabric – and an existing community. The neighbourhood of Waterloo, in innercity Sydney, Australia, is the latest site slated for urban renewal in the state of New South Wales (NSW). Waterloo is a mixed community – around 30% of the area’s population lives in public housing (housing owned and managed by the state government’s Department of Housing), and the population is ethnically diverse, with the 53% of Waterloo’s population born overseas. The NSW government, eager to embrace projects that inject capital into the city, recently announced the redevelopment of the Waterloo Estate, including demolition of almost all of the existing
public housing and its replacement with privatelydeveloped apartments. The government promises that around 30% of the new housing stock will be social housing (a mix of public housing, NGO managed housing and affordable housing – belowmarketrate housing provided by community organisations), and that the redevelopment will create a ‘new, dynamic community’. Interestingly, the neighbourhood of Waterloo already has close to the 30/70 social/market housing ratio that is so often touted by policymakers and planners as the 'ideal mix’. Currently, Waterloo's social housing is concentrated in just a few blocks. Redevelopment will likely not change this pattern – past precedent in Sydney suggests that developers will choose the option to pay a levee to have affordable housing built by elsewhere, rather than incorporating it within new private developments. Thus, social housing will likely remain in separate blocks, and as a consequence it will be unlikely to facilitate any meaningful social interaction between income groups. Social mix policies are based on two key assumptions – the first being that neighbourhood effects (that is, living amongst other disadvantaged people) causes or worsens the disadvantage
experienced by each individual, and the second being that the introduction of middle class residents will improve social capital. There is limited evidence for neighbourhood effects. Quantitative studies claiming to identify neighbourhood effects typically suffer from reverse causation – disadvantaged households live in disadvantaged areas because they are disadvantaged and cannot afford to live elsewhere. There is little to no evidence to suggest that households become disadvantaged as a result of living in a disadvantaged area. Further, by assuming that the middle classes necessarily improve social capital, we are assuming that an individual’s social worth is linked to the economic capital they possess. This implies that poor neighbourhoods are bereft of social capital – a notion that is refuted as emphatically in the literature as it would be by anyone familiar with the Waterloo community. The kind of social capital that neoliberals hope such redevelopments will bring is the kind that will lead to employment outcomes. In the case of Waterloo, such intentions are patently absurd, with the vast majority of tenants receiving old age, disability or carers’ pensions, meaning they are typically unemployable in the long term.
...a Waterloo resident asked what happened to the old community? did it die? when was the funeral? The residents are upset by the government’s assumption that Waterloo lacks community, and by the idea that a new, ‘diverse' community would be ‘improved’ and more ‘vibrant’. At a recent community meeting, a Waterloo resident asked ‘[w]hat happened to the old community? Did it die? When was the funeral?’ Spend just a few minutes talking to residents about Waterloo, and you’ll quickly dismiss the notion that this area lacks community. Residents talk of mutual assistance and exchange relationships – sharing meals, translating a letter for a neighbour with limited English – and the social relationships and strong ties that provide personal support and assistance – the neighbours that meet daily for tea or the weekly knitting circles. Many of the residents of Waterloo suffer mental illness, are elderly or disabled. The redevelopment of their public housing, and the prospect of moving – possibly multiple times – presents an enormous upheaval in their lives. Residents at a recent community meeting expressed concern that their mentally ill or elderly neighbours might not cope with the relocation. The government is claiming that displacement will be minimal, as residents will be offered the opportunity to return to Waterloo when
the redevelopment is complete (though a timeframe for this remains unclear). However, it is indisputable that displacement will occur – even if only temporarily – as residents will have to move necessarily attached to Waterloo because of the physical environment, rather, they are attached to Waterloo because of the meanings that the place has – familiarity, security, safety, community ties, friendships and history. How familiar will Waterloo be to the original residents once it has been wholly redeveloped, once the area is full of millionsomewhere (likely outside of the neighbourhood), before their buildings are demolished, while they wait for new housing to be constructed. Many vulnerable community members will struggle with this disruption to their lives. Further, displacement and loss of place can occur even without permanent physical relocation. Residents aren’t dollar apartments and local services such as the fullysubsidised medical clinic has disappeared? (The clinic is one of several that will be demolished to make way for the planned railway station that will service the area). Social housing provides important benefits to residents, in part due to the stability and security of tenure offered by social housing. While many people imagine social housing to be a tenure of last resort, the residents who rely upon it benefit from the security and stability that it brings to their lives.
If we are so concerned with achieving social mix, why not pay more attention to achieving it in all neighbourhoods, including those with concentrations of advantage? Governments do not appear genuinely interested in achieved mixed communities across the entirety of our cities – if they were, they would consider measures to introduce low income households into wealthy areas, as well as the inverse. Rather, governments focus on reclaiming inner city areas from disadvantaged groups, making them available for capital reinvestment, and dispersing the disadvantaged residents throughout the city to make their poverty less visible. We cannot pretend that these neighbourhoods are blank slates. If we ignore existing communities in the effort to engineer new, diverse communities, we risk visiting a severe injustice upon these people – many of whom are already our cities’ most vulnerable and disadvantaged residents.
Laura Wynne is a Senior Researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney. She is interested in how we can foster sustainable, equitable and just cities for all. This paper is based on her doctoral thesis.
start a commotion! We hope you are enjoying this first edition of commotion. This is the journal of urbanistas and we want to include articles by women, for women and about women who are making cities better. Photo essays? yes, definitely. 300 words about the project you are passionate about? sounds good. Advertisements for your company? not so much. Suggestions for people that we should interview? yes please! 36 hours in your urban inspiration? go on then.. Any questions, please contact us at startacommotion.co.uk
36 hrs in Sydney Despite the evercontentious lockout laws and the unsurprising threat of gentrification, Sydney continues to delight and surprise. Just last year it was voted fourth best city in the world by Conde Nast Traveller readers, so it’s got to be doing something right. I am an Architecture Graduate, Placemaker and Urbanista who moved from Sheffield, England, to Sydney less than 3 months ago and I have fallen in love with my new home and everything it has to offer. Here are my mustsees, musteats, mustdos. friday 2pm walk the talk Starting at the heart of the city in Hyde Park (much smaller than its British namesake!), it’s worth making a visit into the Anzac War Memorial. Whether you like its bold 1930s design or not, the informative guides will be your first friendly face in Sydney. Next stop, head to Town Hall and join an ‘I’m Free Walking Tours’. Led by lively, green tshirtclad guides, there’s no better way to learn, wander, and meet other travellers all at once than on one of these two hour tours. It’s no surprise that company founder Justine studied Architecture, and she applies this builtenvironment insight into the engaging tour approach. 5pm beer on the rocks After all that walking, it’s time for a welldeserved beer! Grab an icecold schooner at Palisade Hotel, a gorgeous harbourfront redbrick building that’s been around for over a century. Interior design lovers rejoice this character filled joint in Sydney’s most famous historic district has also recently undergone a handsome renovation to feast your eyes on. 7pm boutique bay evening To finish the day, catch a glimpse of the spectacular Circular Quay at night as you launch on the ferry (all part of the affordably priced public transport system; London’s Oyster Card eatyer heartout). Arrive at Sydney’s Eastern Peninsula and spend the evening wining and dining in beachside glamour at Watsons Bay Hotel. Dress to impress and expect an Italianmeetsseafood menu.
saturday 9.30am coastal sights and beach life Tick off six of the city’s 100+ beaches and sample the healthy Eastern Suburb culture as you stroll from Bondi to Coogee. A refreshing 6km start to the day, this clifftop coastal walk is popular with locals and also home to the ‘Sculpture by the Sea’ art trail. Finish the walk with a fresh juice or smoothie pit stop, indulge in peoplewatching the mix of families, surfers, and young travellers, and don’t forget to take an ocean dip. 1pm anything goes in Newtown Back to the city, and to Sydney’s ‘hippest’ suburb: Newtown. Situated to the southwest of the CBD, Newtown is an energetic boiling pot of nearby university students, artists, yogis, cyclists, vegetarians and everything in between. Lose yourself wandering the Saturday markets and check out some awesome street art. For something sweet, head to Black Star Pastry. For a beer with a panoramic view, head to Zanzibar. For cheap, payasyou feel food served by incredible volunteers and a daily changing menu, head to Lentil as Anything. 3pm art and architecture collide Just two stops along the trainline towards Sydney’s centre and you stop at Redfern. Whilst Redfern is one of the last innercity suburbs to see the construction and redevelopment that comes handinhand with gentrification, it is also home to the (selfconfessed) ‘most significant contemporary multiarts centre of its kind in Australia’. Housed in the old Eveleigh Rail Works, Carriageworks defies characterisation. Expect faded industrial grandeur, perfectly articulated architectural detailing, and an artistled program. The highlight of the upcoming season will be Bjork’s DJ set accompanied by sound and light installation, all as part of the Vivid Sydney festival. 5.30pm chinatown buzz For dinner, lose yourself in the hustle and bustle of Sydney’s Chinatown and sample dumplings, seafood,
and Asian pastries amongst other delights. Hawker Restaurant on Sussex Street serves particularly good street foodinspired MalaysianChinese cuisine that doesn’t break the bank. ‘Penang Rojak' (Salad of fresh yambean, fried tofu, cucumber, pineapple, guava and dough crisps) is a great startertoshare. 8pm spectacular jazz End your 36hour Sydney whirlwind with a worldclass live jazz performance at Venue 505. Nestled in Surry Hills, this intimate and authentic music venue put on some of the best shows in town so book a ticket (topclass acts sell out), find a casual lowlying sofa complete with moody candlelight and cocktail in hand, and kickback for a musical night to remember.
Aside from working for Sydney placemaking consultancy Place Partners, Bryony Simcox is interested in collaboration, ethical consumption, and plays the violin. She can be found wandering the city taking photos, and channels her thoughts on www.bryonysimcox.tumblr.com
next edition july 2016
Commotion is the journal of Urbanistas. Written by women, about women, for women who are making our cities better for everyone.
Published on May 3, 2016
Commotion is the journal of Urbanistas. Written by women, about women, for women who are making our cities better for everyone.