Media Release
Winners announced for the inaugural Public Space Ideas Competition
05 November, 2020

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Matt Levinson

Greening pumps to cool Western Sydney, creating micromeadows connect to nature and a new 42km of continuous walking and cycling trails are some of the winning entries to the inaugural Public Space Ideas Competition for Greater Sydney.

The competition is organised by the Committee for Sydney and NSW Government, supported by AECOM and the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects. It seeks to  reimagine, inspire, create, and bring awareness to great public spaces across Greater Sydney.

Eight awards were handed out at the International Convention Centre Sydney last night (4 Nov) by the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Hon. Rob Stokes MP and members of the competition judging panel. The competition received over 500 separate entries.

The awards went to:

  • Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Award: Greening pipes to cool Sydney’s west, Arup. This idea from Arup demonstrates an innovative and well-developed concept that enhances connectivity. Repurposing underutilised infrastructure, it’s a sophisticated solution to solving the issue of extreme heat in Western Sydney, as well as enhancing the region’s biodiversity.
  • Best Public Facility Idea: The Modern Carpark, Canterbury Bankstown Council. This entry addresses a growing dilemma faced by many local government agencies – ageing carpark infrastructure. Canterbury Bankstown Council has envisioned a way to revamp these spaces in a way that considers the entire community. The Modern Carpark concept is an urban interchange for people to access a variety of activation zones, with facilities like bike and ride-sharing areas, parcel pickup lockers, community arts and culture spaces, and open space for people to socialise and relax.
  • Best Temporary and/or Low-Cost Public Space Idea: 30kph limit for non-arterial roads, The Walking Volunteers, Ian Napier, Paul Tranter and Rodney Tolley. This idea speaks for itself – introducing a 30kph speed limit for non-arterial roads. At this speed it’s safer for pedestrians to cross and drivers have the width of vision to spot children and older citizens. At this speed there’s also no need to build expensive, separated bike lanes as cyclists are comfortable sharing the road.
  • Best Resilient Public Space Idea: Unlocking South Sydney’s Newest Blue-Green Grid, RobertsDay. This idea rethinks how we use open space and water in South Sydney. The proposal unlocks 42km of continuous walking and cycling trails along the Wolli Creek, Cooks River and Botany Bay corridors. This concept reimagines a network of waterside, greener places with a diversity of programs and place activation opportunities.
  • Best Street Idea: My Street is a Park, Georgina DeBeaujeu. This addresses the lack of green space in our streets as a gateway to opportunity in our communities. My Street is a Park sparks the idea that we can transform underutilised public and private land in and around our streets into green space. We can use private developments as a catalyst to transform public streetscapes and by changing the rules we can deliver a park to residents and a return to developers.
  • Best Open Space Idea: Urban Micromeadows, Cred Consulting. This idea looks to transform residual and underused open space into micro-meadows to connect to nature, protect threatened fauna and flora, beautify our neighbourhoods, and improve health, wellbeing, and safety for residents. As many Sydneysiders are living in increasingly dense neighbourhoods with limited access to quality open space or opportunities to connect with nature, the jury was in strong agreeance that is idea holds immense value for our communities.
  • Children and Young People’s Award: A Bushland Experience, Bianca Hales and Molly Flanagan. This idea incorporates environmentally-sensitive design with inclusivity and accessibility to ensure all Sydneysiders get to experience the joy of their surroundings. In this area of publicly accessible bushland, the path equitably accommodates for wheelchair accessibility and bikes. The path intentionally curves to direct attention to the bushland, encouraging every Sydneysider to enrich social and mental health outdoors. Various seating areas, immersed in greenery, form a sanctuary from dense urban Sydney.
  • Student Award: Common(s) Utilities, Janelle Woo and Gracie Grew. This is a concept that reimagines the civic potential and public ownership of Sydney’s historic urban utility infrastructure. Common(s) Utilities celebrates the historic beauty of country and the city’s urban memory. It’s an idea that engages practitioners, local government and community and Indigenous consultation to breathe new life into these historic spaces and retune them with good design for ongoing community use.

Hon. Rob Stokes MP, Minister for Planning and Public Spaces said: “The Public Spaces Ideas Competition is so important as innovative ideas evolve from where people live, play and work. Whether is a patch of grass near home, or an empty laneway on the way to the train station – all public space can be reimagined.

“The entries showed great creativity and passion for public space.”

Gabriel Metcalf, CEO of the Committee for Sydney said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of public spaces in Sydney. It’s amazing that we’ve received over 500 submissions from Sydneysiders across the city with so many fantastic ideas on how to enhance our public spaces.

“Many of the entries focus on ways to improve Sydney’s natural environment and green spaces, as well as encouraging safer roads and more access for walking and cycling. As our city rebuilds from the pandemic, we have a great opportunity to reshape the city and make it even more enjoyable for the people who live and work here.

“This competition has unearthed some incredible innovative ideas and we look forward to working with the winners to make their visions a reality”. 

 James Rosenwax, Managing Director, Buildings and Places, ANZ, AECOM said: “The coronavirus pandemic has deepened everyone’s relationship with public space as they explored their own neighbourhoods during lockdown. It has also elevated the topic of equity of access and sustainability which really shines through in many of the outstanding entries.”

“The competition response exceeded our expectations, and the depth and variety of entries demonstrates the passion that Sydneysiders have for public space. With so much infrastructure under development or planning, we have a unique opportunity to design green and grey infrastructure to co-exist in harmony and create a more vibrant, equitable and sustainable Sydney at the same time.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Committee for Sydney is an urban policy think tank. We are advocates for the whole of Sydney, developing pragmatic and innovative solutions to the most important problems we face. We are funded by a group of Sydney’s leading corporations, government departments and cultural institutions. Our goal is to make Sydney the best city in the world.
  2. The Public Space Ideas Competition was open for applications for anyone with a passion for public space to submit an idea for how we can improve public space in Greater Sydney.  Applicants needed to provide up to a 250 word description and an image of their idea. This image could be a sketch, a drawing, a detailed rendering or anything in between.
  3. The awards were decided by a judging panel of senior experts. Judges were as follows:
  • Abbie Galvin – NSW Government Architect
  • Alice Rummery – Youth Representative
  • Elizabeth Mossop – Professor of Landscape Architecture and Dean – Design, Architecture and Building, University of Technology Sydney
  • Ethan Kent – Executive Director – PlacemakingX (USA)
  • Helen Lochhead – Dean – Built Environment, University of New South Wales
  • Henriette Vamberg – Partner & Managing Director – Gehl (Denmark)
  • Kerry London – Dean – Built Environment, Western Sydney University
  • Lindy Deitz – CEO, Campbelltown City Council
  • Lisa Davies – Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald
  • Robyn Dowling – Head of School & Dean – Architecture, Design and Planning, University of Sydney
  • Sarah Abu Dareb – WSU Student
  • Susan Lloyd Hurwitz – CEO & Managing Director – Mirvac
  • Shaun Walsh – National President and Fellow – Australian Institute of Landscape Architects
  • Wesley Enoch – Artistic Director – Sydney Festival