We discover why Sydney is continuing its dominance as one of the top cities in the world in which to live, placemaking has been brought further into the limelight by both government and developers.
Sydney has some of the best parks of any major city in the world. From its network of parklands to its vast open spaces, the capital of New South Wales (NSW) has been designed to maximise outdoor living for its 5.3 million residents. A 50-year vision announced last year will see the entire metropolitan area under a single plan.
NSW Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how we need to change the way we look at our public spaces – not as parks in a city but rather as Sydney as a city within a park.”
Placemaking is taken very seriously in this part of the world. For the uninitiated, placemaking refers to the process involved in strengthening the connection between people and the places they share.
By reimagining and then capitalising on a community’s assets – including parks, waterfronts, plazas, streets, markets, and both public and private buildings – placemaking can create high-quality spaces that contribute to people’s health, happiness, and wellbeing. Examples of this can include public art installations, pop-up parks, laneway activations, and food and music festivals.
With placemaking in mind, late last year the NSW government set up a new independent advisory committee for the purpose of guiding the creation of great places across the entire state.
To achieve this, four objectives were developed to ensure that Sydney remains a cultural and creative city. This is part of the Sustainable Sydney 2030 plan which entails the following:
Encourage the appreciation and development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage and its expression, as there is still not enough being done to help with cultural understanding and respect as well as the economic impact that comes with a lack of employment opportunities.
Support cultural activity, participation, and interaction in several ways, such as planning the building of new facilities that will help to increase participation among residents, which is lacking due to a perception that the city does not nurture enough artists and performers. Support the development of creative industries due to a lack of recognition until recently and relatively few spaces required to grow industries such as film, broadcasting, and music.
Provide cultural leadership and strengthen cultural partnerships to help increase investment into the cultural infrastructure of the city and provide the buildings, studios, galleries, and other spaces needed to meet the demands of the growing population.
Since Sustainable Sydney 2030 kicked off in 2008, the City has invested approximately AUD 34.7 million (approx. USD 26.7 million) annually, while also starting a public art strategy called City Art which is bringing in AUD 20 million (approx. USD 15.4 million) of investment through this year. It’s not just about creating spaces for art to be displayed either, it’s also about creating affordable spaces for artists to work in. There is a serious lack of affordable studios and meeting places for young creatives in Sydney and this is forcing them to move to other towns across Australia. City Art has played an important part in turning Sydney’s creative scene around.
Let’s now take a deep dive into some of the best projects across Sydney that embody placemaking at their heart.
Barangaroo: One Sydney Harbour
Barangaroo is one of the most unique and exciting projects in Sydney. The massive redevelopment project took what was once a 22-hectare disused container port near the CBD and turned it into a sanctuary for residents to live, work, and enjoy the outdoors right in the heart of Sydney. The area will include extensive parks and exceptional dining options, not to mention access to numerous ferries and an upcoming metro.
Barangaroo also happens to be Australia’s first carbon-neutral precinct, which it obtained in 2019 under Sustainability Manager Anita Mitchell, who is now the head of the NSW government’s placemaking committee. Environment Minister Matt Kean said, “This world-leading accomplishment builds on the existing sustainability achievements at Barangaroo, including water harvesting and recycling, centralised cooling through the use of water from Sydney Harbour, and its net-zero emissions from waste aspirations”.
Lendlease CEO, Steve McCann said, “Fundamental to the precinct’s success was the creation of a “secret city” – with an approximately 830,000-square-foot basement hosting all precinct infrastructure. On top of this, our buildings are designed to reduce energy use by 75 per cent, solar panels saturate the rooftops and seawater from Sydney Harbour cools air-conditioning systems across the precinct. With the support of our tenants and investor community, the Barangaroo precinct is the first of its kind with all four sides of the buildings activated to create a walkable plane”.
One Sydney Harbour is located in the Barangaroo precinct. Designed by Renzo Piano, the world-renowned architect known for buildings such as The Shard in London and Eighty-Seven Park in Miami Beach, One Sydney Harbour is set to become one of Sydney’s most sought-after residences. Developed by Lendlease, the buildings each feature a glistening facade of glass that reflects the light differently depending on the time of day making for a spectacular site for adoring onlookers.
“The brightness of the sky will be captured, refracting the glittering Sydney light, right to the top where the penthouse apartments merge into the sky. The result is a trio of graceful buildings that capture and play with light, like harbour waters in the morning sun”, said Piano.
The luxurious residences come in one- to four-bedroom layouts. These fit into three collections – Harbour, Signature, Luxury. Each residence provides residents with a winter garden perfect for enjoying Sydney’s year-round sunshine, along with full-sized windows to let in that spectacular light and breathtaking views the surroundings have to offer.
There’s more for residents to enjoy in terms of amenities. Swimming pools with views looking out over the harbour as well as a jacuzzi spa and steam room provide a luxurious and relaxing way to spend time in One Sydney Harbour. Residents can also make use of a private dining room, wine room, Orangerie, and billiards room for those who enjoy a bit of recreation after some fine dining.
Crown Residences at One Barangaroo
Also located at Barangaroo is the Crown Residences at One Barangaroo. This spectacular development, created by architects Wilkinson Eyre, who is famous for designing Singapore’s Gardens by The Bay, features 82 luxurious residences and was designed to be a landmark to the beautiful city below.
Design firm, Meyer Davis, has taken the interior design to the next level and ensured that each residence will offer its occupants a spacious and spectacular living space high above the bustling harbour below.
Living in Crown Residences is like living in your own luxury hotel. Residences come in two- to five-bedroom layouts, as well as duplex penthouses offering the utmost in luxury accommodation in the sky. Amenities and services such as in-residence dining, restaurants, valet parking, concierge, and spa services also provide you with the ultimate excuse to not have to travel far from Barangaroo.
Sydney CBD: Greenland Centre Sydney
One project that has taken art straight to its heart is the Greenland Centre Sydney by Greenland Australia. Located in the heart of Sydney’s CBD, the luxury condominium (and tallest residential building in Sydney) features the Greenland Centre Creative Hub which is an AUD 25 million (approx. USD 19.25 million) state-of-the-art facilities that’ll meet the needs of creatives in all shapes and forms. The five-storey facility has space for everything from dancers and music, to film, theatre, and other forms of visual arts.
The Greenland Centre Creative Hub is a collaboration between the developer and the City of Sydney to promote the public interest because it’s being created for the public’s benefit. It’s the first time the term ‘public benefit’ has been used for artist and creative team spaces, as well as being the only place in inner-Sydney to offer these facilities.
That’s not all Greenland Australia is up to. The Greenland Centre Sydney Tower recently unveiled permanent artworks on its façade and in its main foyer. Internationally acclaimed New Mexican artist Larry Bell currently has his artwork under installation on the main façade. Named “Andamooka: Portraits of Red”, the grandiose sculpture is made of cantilevered blades of coloured glass with panels that are approximately 12 metres in height and peers over the footpath below the north face of the building.
The second piece of artwork is a mosaic piece by local Australian-based artist Agatha Gothe-Snape. Named “The Noblest of the Elements is Water”, the large artwork measures 5 by 17 metres and will overlook the East Lane of the building. Water is fundamental to civilisation and humankind’s very survival and the mosaic of sintered glass, Murano smalti-covered ceramic tiles, fired ceramic tiles, and natural split-face marble embodies that message. It also connects it to the neighbouring Primus Hotel, which previously operated as the city’s Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board headquarters from 1939 to 2009.
Both pieces were approved by the City of Sydney’s Public Art Advisory Panel. According to Greenland Australia’s CEO, Sherwood Luo, “We couldn’t be more excited to reach this point in the building’s progression, where we are finally able to add the finishing touches, including these stunning artworks, and we wouldn’t have got to this point without our fruitful relationship with the City of Sydney.
“In addition to these two stunning artworks, we look forward to handing over the keys to the City of Sydney Creative Hub, which will occupy 21,540 square feet across the first five floors of the building and soon become a home to the city’s growing arts community,” said Mr Luo.
Greenland Centre Sydney is set to become one of the premier destinations in Sydney when it completes this year. The luxurious apartment building features 479 apartments ranging in size from 420to 2,854 square foot, as well as a 7,258-square-foot penthouse. All residents will have access to a 30-metre indoor-outdoor swimming pool as well as other amenities including a sauna, spa, steam room, outdoor sundeck, and a multi-function residents’ room.
Epping: The Langston
Located in the north-western suburb of Epping in Sydney, The Langston is being built a short distance from the revamped train station and the new Sydney Metro North West. Developed by Cbus Property, designed by Architectus, and under construction by Hutchinson Builders, the residences will feature three towers and include a vibrant mixed-use precinct offering plenty of retail and communal open space. Importantly, the project provides a pedestrian link that runs through the site and connects locals to the adjacent Pembroke Street Park, the Epping public library, and plenty of recreational facilities on the eastern side of the train station.
In order to provide the neighbourhood with a taste of what’s to come at The Langston, Cbus Property planned a placemaking initiative – ‘The Langston Weekender’ – in late 2018, prior to the commencement of construction. The event brought together multiple activation themes such as food and beverage, public art, markets, live music, and temporary retail into one precinct, drawing pedestrian traffic to the site and supporting the future vision of The Langston. Once the project completes later this year, there are plans to hold The Langston Weekender as a regular community event, supporting the onsite retail and encouraging ongoing activation of the site.
According to Adrian Pozzo, Chief Executive Officer of Cbus Property, building confidence in the project involves a commitment to the community. “At Cbus Property, we’re conscious of the role a project such as The Langston will play in the future of Epping, and that’s why we undertake regular community consultation,” he said. “This can come in many forms – through direct meetings with community groups, formalised quarterly Construction Liaison Committee meetings, or even at community-facing events. On The Langston project, we are ticking all of these boxes because we want to go above and beyond when it comes to engaging with the people of Epping.”
Since the start of COVID-19, the developer has also taken into account additional lifestyle amenities residents now want from their homes. Recognising the shift in buyer requirements, Cbus Property worked with Architectus to redesign the lower floor plates in The Langston’s second stage launch, Central, to incorporate a range of exceptional new amenity offerings. These include a pool deck, sky lounge, dining spaces, and a wellness hub (including gym and yoga space) that were not part of the project’s original design. There will also be on-site resident study areas and shared co-working spaces. These additional amenities will be available to all purchasers.