Cities are increasingly critical to future economic growth and climate action. Occupying just 0.5 percent of the earth’s surface, they generate 80 percent of global economic output and 75 percent of global energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. They are also experiencing rapid urbanization: today, 54 percent of the world’s population lives in cities, with projections rising to 75 percent by 2050.
Sydney’s population is predicted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to increase from 4.6 million to nearly 9 million by 2061. Even without this growth, the city has already surpassed the limits of its 20th century urban model characterized by a car-based, monocentric city core surrounded by low density suburban sprawl. Congestion, long commutes, the adverse effects of climate change, inaccessibility of public transport and decreasing housing affordability are all the by-products of a city model under strain.
To overcome these challenges, Sydney needs a vision for growth that will transform it into a sustainable and equitable Global City. Through a series of design visions for the city center, adapting Sydney to a 21st century urban model underpinned by sustainability, equality and a low carbon future is explored. Investigations include harnessing value capture to create a new public rapid transport system and network of high-density clusters across Sydney; removing aging infrastructure at Circular Quay to create a people place of national significance; leveraging air rights over Central Station to relocate Allianz Stadium over public transport and revitalize the 19th century rail infrastructure; and creating a pedestrian spine on Park Street in the CBD that represents post-automobile urbanization. These visions demonstrate the need for architects to work on city visions unrestrained by institutional boundaries.