Ruth McDermott, Ben Baxter

Creating welcoming, dappled shade for a variety of small and large public spaces

Climate change is bringing hotter, longer summers so the need for shade points in public spaces is becoming more urgent. There are many public spaces in Sydney which cannot have trees and do not have overhangs to provide shade. In these spaces, the harsh sun and unforgiving light bounce around to create a less than optimal experience. If one thing has become obvious in the past year, people want to move around by foot and spaces – even small intermediate spaces and transitional area – need to be more welcoming.

The concept of ‘Canopy’ is based on the Idea of screening and sheltering from the sun and whilst aiming to avoid becoming an oppressive heat trap. ‘Canopy’ forms patterns on the ground like the dappled patterns of gum trees. This concept allows wind and air to flow through inspired by the Australian use of louvres in architecture whilst allowing some winter sun and light through the structure.

The patterns pictured celebrate the rich flora of the Sydney basin – Melaleuca, Burrawang (fern) and Dioscorea (yams). However, the screens could be customised. Gathering points such as lookouts, walkways and areas adjacent to intersections are possible sites but we have not specified a particular space deliberately. Canopy should just pop up at random places like the ways our gum trees spring up in unexpected places creating respite. Built-in lighting could create an engaging and safe space at night.

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