Small is Beautiful
Kok Hui (Desmond) Ong
Reclaim street frontage to create a vibrant, socially and culturally diverse street life
2.16km of purpose-built vehicle accessways in the city centre of Sydney. These are 2,168m less street frontage in the city where you can slow down and look at what every inch of space offers. The dominance of the automobile is still very apparent in the city.
Active street frontage – a fine-grain place for commerce, leisure, food and work but during the time of internet, automobile, urban sprawl, universal worship of bigness and now the pandemic, urban streets are increasingly deserted. These empty street frontages are a telling sign we still don’t know how to create one when we all aware of the importance of active public space.
As the population continues to grow in Australian cities and towns, density without intensity could return us to the same deserted space in the city centre like the late 20th Century’s.
Where/what is quality street life when no one goes out?
Introduce the urban intensity in big cities. Sydney is a big city but to have the urban quality, the city needs to put its attention to urban intensity, therefore ‘smallness’. ‘Small is beautiful’ coined by economist E. F. Schumacher, he considers small-scale as a value of contemporary times. Smallness creates affordability, diversity and accessibility. Furthermore, the intimacy of things begins from smallness.
When we think about the city, we always have to think about the meanings. Therefore, reclamation of these spaces begins with the realisation that these are part of the meanings of Sydney. Let’s recreate meanings to these spaces with smallness.