The Role of Design Competitions in Shaping Sydney's Public Realm

Helen Lochhead
Dean, Faculty of Built Environment
UNSW Sydney, Sydney

Tall buildings often take more than they give back, frequently exacerbating local environmental conditions, overshadowing streets and public spaces, creating wind tunnels, and impacting the social life of streets by replacing diversity with mono-cultures. Since 2000, through the City of Sydney’s Design Excellence competition policy, the quality of tall buildings has been improved significantly, mediating the competing tensions of public and private interests. The most successful of these developments demonstrate not only design excellence and technical innovation, but respond to the urban condition by contributing to the life of the city, through the addition of new public spaces and programs that enliven the city fabric. This presentation profiled recent Sydney exemplars that, through considered design and programming of the ground plane and the public interface, have reconnected streets, created new urban spaces, and contributed more widely to the revitalization of city precincts. It demonstrates how common spaces are fundamental to the vibrancy and success of these high-density developments and highlighted that, despite their differences, these spaces share traits that can provide useful lessons for others.

Accompanying PowerPoint Presentation

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