Sydney Urbanity and Architecture

Is architecture is failing contemporary Sydney? Part One


There is no doubt that the City of Sydney and its harbour are magnificent to behold. (click on the photo to enlarge). The mix of built structures really makes for a view that demands you take the time to stare, contemplate and to just enjoy it for as long as it takes. However…..

Over the years there have been thousands of architects graduate from our many university architecture programs and there has been loads of research and papers on how to go about great architectural design.

So then I look towards the main part of the Sydney CBD and I ask myself: What have we achieved by investing all those resources in research and in those students. Look at the picture below and all you will see is very ordinary city architecture. Is this really the best we could have done for the 21st Century.

How much of this architecture is beautiful, how much is innovative and just how much addresses the environmental and climate concerns of this century?

(click on the photo to enlarge)


To your far right you will observe the beginnings of the buildings for the new developments around Barangaroo. Will these be innovative and creative and will they address climate change adaptation?

Sadly you and I think we know the answer.  But we could be pleasantly surprised.

So I have to ask, is it time to question the directions of some of the university architectural & related programs as well as some of the associated research centres (CRCs etc)? What have we delivered besides loads of papers and reports and out of work graduates? No-one seems to be paying serious attention to the research or to implementing any of the findings.

I suggest that we look for some resources to work with the City of Sydney and other local councils to directly influence and develop some key case studies by providing generous and tied subsidies for those councils willing to develop and implement some innovative climate change oriented architectural and landscape design proposals.

Please be assured that I am not talking of any involvement with the likes of the dreaded and superficial green building ratings here. We have had enough of this type green-wash that pleases no-one except the development lobby and their supporters in planning authorities. It is time to stop playing with these silly green star ratings and do something serious that addresses the concerns of residents and their concerns for future generations.

We could definitely do with a set of game changers in the design of our built environments. Let’s deliver something that actually starts to deliver creative and liveable sustainable settlements and that addresses against real and serious climate change adaptation measures.


for more on architecture – click here

Paul Costigan, 11 June 2014


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