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Sydney Architecture Festival: Making. Housing. Affordable.

The Sydney Architecture Festival 2019 unveils a series of events that looks at the role and value of architecture and its innate response to the human need for shelter. For one whole week, the city of Sydney turns into a sphere of exploration and research, investigating the rise in urban density and the inimitable housing crisis.

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October 18th, 2019


At the core of design and architecture is their relationships to the way humans interact with the built environment, with an inspiring power to change the world and improve its present state. At the forefront, the response to the human need for shelter is a conversation that explores contemporary urban problems within society. The Sydney Architecture Festival looks at current research, development, innovation and policy activity in changing the current urban landscape.

This year’s theme is: Making. Housing. Affordable. Coming back for its 13th year, the 2019 festival format expands to a week-long festival running from 11-17 November under the creative direction of Dr Barnaby Bennett. Spanning across different locations around the City of Sydney and the state of New South Wales, attendees will be able to attend engaging seminars, exhibitions, film screenings, tours and listen to speakers across a range of disciplines. The week will reflect on issues of design, economics, housing quality and housing affordability to answer the key question: What needs to change to make it affordable to have a home in Sydney?

One keystone event of the festival is a free two-day public symposium titled, ‘Better Housing Now.’ It takes an in-depth look at the complex and interconnected issues that have crafted the unaffordable city. Taking the form of four separate sessions: ‘Setting the scene’; ‘Defining the terms’; ‘Squaring the circle’; and ‘A call to arms,’ Sydney’s pioneering advocacy groups, organisations and designers will visit the root of the problem and explore future-centric solutions.

Architecture firm, John McAslan and Partners will present an exhibition that addresses the struggles of the younger demographic with the insufficient supply of affordable housing in Sydney. ‘Hidden Homeless: Radical ideas to tackle the housing crisis head on’ will present 47 creative, sustainable and practical approaches to address the growing homeless crisis. With the younger generation suffering some of the worst effects of the housing problem, the Hidden Homeless design competition challenged designers and architects to propose radical ideas for refined and innovative housing schemes that resolve the difficult situation. Based on a real site brief of London’s Kings Cross, the exhibition by John McAslan and Partners educates the greater community on the needed support, with longer-term solutions for the present and future generations.

An exciting series of walking tours hosted by Eoghan Lewis and Sydney Architecture Walks will take a journey through the vibrant neighbourhoods of the inner-city, former working-class suburbs of Redfern and Surry Hills. Over the last few decades, these areas have undergone massive changes within the socio-economic demographics of the area. ‘Walking Tours: Design Innovation and Housing choice in Redfern and Surry Hills’ is set within the broader theme of housing affordability. Delving into a deeper route of what it entails, this feature event provides opportunities to share radically new development models as well as some of the fiscal and political factors affecting affordability within the city and state.

On the last of The Sydney Architecture Festival 2019, the captivating event closes with an exceptional evening that examines and celebrates the value of architecture as a response to problems of affordability. One of Australia’s design visionaries and esteemed intellects, Timothy Hill, along with the brilliance of British architect, Paul Karakusevic, will give a few words to formally close the much-awaited event.

The increasing complexity and rapid rise in density of urban life have intensified the challenge of housing in the past century. “Sydney exemplifies urban problems of affordability: houses are too expensive, homelessness is rising, the construction industry is struggling to keep up with demand, and we are largely building the wrong type of houses in the wrong places,” expresses Festival Director Barnaby Bennett. “Sydney Architecture Festival will present the case that while some factors of housing affordability are fraught with debate and disagreement, a space for constructive action exists.”

Set within a dynamic civic space at the heart of central Sydney, the series of high-profile events are presented by the NSW Architects Registration Board. Open to the local community members and industry professionals, the Sydney Architecture Festival seeks to create a better understanding of architecture through an engaging, focused and passion-filled week.

The festival runs from Monday 11 November until Sunday 17 November 2019. Further information and details on every event can be found on the festival website.

Photography courtesy Sydney Architecture Festival.

Housing Affordability is a theme we will be tackling in issue #79 of Indesign magazine – the ‘City Futures’ issue – due out early November 2019.


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