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MUDD 21 - City Visions II

Re-imagining the Harbour City The 9th Paul Reid Lecture in Urban Design

“At key moments, these tensions [in competing agendas] have spawned civic awakening, discourse and demonstration that resulted in pivotal transformation around the harbour” Sydney is one of the most extraordinary harbour cities in the world. The city hugs the figural 320 kilometre shoreline of bays and inlets and is ringed with the city’s most valued landscapes, cultural icons, infrastructure and development. The early pattern of Sydney’s development was driven by the geography of this drowned river valley and shaped its distinct form and character, of ridge top roads and street spurs that run down to the water, of green headlands and protected bays and anchorages. Despite the city’s early focus on the harbour as a place of commerce, transport and industry, we have today our amazing legacy of an accessible and green foreshore setting. This has been no accident but rather by design. Like all industrial and post-industrial cities, Sydney has had to deal with the tension of competing agendas throughout its history, economic growth versus environmental protection, public versus private interests, conservation versus renewal. At key moments, these tensions have spawned civic awakening, discourse and demonstration that resulted in pivotal transformation around the harbour. An imperative to act, to challenge the status quo, has been borne from both adversity, such as the the outbreak of plague in the The Rocks at the turn of the 20th century and the decline in the manufacturing sector in the 1960s-70s; as well as opportunity, such as successive technological innovations in shipping, and major events notably the Bicentennial and 2000 Olympics. The provocateurs of civic conscience around the future of Sydney Harbour have most often been architects, planners, conservationists and the green movement, who have not only challenged the prevailing opinions but proposed alternative visions. Many have been realized with the alignment of successive governments’ commitment to invest in public policy and projects of vision, substance and design intent. This has resulted in significant urban projects that have shaped the form and identity of our harbour setting. Some iconic, such as Sydney Opera House, others discrete but directed actions – policies and projects – that cumulatively have resulted in much more than the sum of the parts, such as our enviable necklace of foreshore parklands. The harbour’s enduring resilience and beauty and value is largely due to this


commitment to the public domain by successive State, City and Local Governments. More recently the drive to become a global city has more than ever before resulted in the importation of other paradigms and a move to market led infrastructure provision that has shifted the focus from public to private interests, from government as promoter to government as client, with mixed results. The key to maintaining the identity of Sydney Harbour is to sustain the unique and particular, that is Sydney’s cache. The challenge is to ensure future development and governance around the harbour value the cultural and ecological; prioritize quality planning and design of the built environment; and share the harbour setting as a public place for the benefit of all. This lecture will seek to illustrate through a series of case studies how thought leadership and vision, concerted public policy, planning and governance, together with considered and brave design interventions, have shaped Sydney into the memorable harbour city that it is today. Speaker Profile Professor Helen Lochhead is an Australian architect, urban and landscape designer and the new Dean of Built Environment at the University of New South Wales, Australia. Prior to her appointment as Dean she held a number of influential positions in the NSW Government and the City of Sydney including including Executive Director roles at Sydney Olympic Park Authority and Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, and was most recently deputy NSW Government Architect. Her career has focused on the inception, planning, design and delivery of complex multidisciplinary projects and public works ranging from a 5-year city improvements program for the City of Sydney leading up to the 2000 Olympics to major urban renewal and waterfront projects. She has been instrumental in shaping more major precincts around Sydney Harbour than most, including the transformation of Sydney Olympic Park at Homebush Bay from a sports precinct into a mixed-use community and parklands with environmental

Mudd folio final 02 mar 2016  

City Visions: Method & Design Chicago | Berlin | Sydney International Studio workshops from the Masters of Urban Development & Design degree...