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Sydney in Extremis: The Festival of Urbanism

Desperate times call for desperate measures. The University of Sydney’s third Festival of Urbanism will investigate what can be done to help ease the pressure on Sydney.

Festival of Urbanism | Indesign Live


BY David Congram

August 1st, 2016


The population of Sydney is projected to grow to 5.89 million people by 2031. Simply – no, scarily, we are not ready. In the past four years, State Authorities have recognised that the city’s transport, public services, and green spaces had been under far too much pressure for far too long. Frequent urban redevelopments and extreme upheavals in local government have been drastically thrown at Sydney – the city brokering on tourists while tourism is waning; where citizens despair real estate; and where the youngest generations are already feeling Sydney has lost its edge.

The general rhetoric on the streets is maybe a little doomsday, but need it be? Here is a first-world city with trailblazing smart technology, strategic investment, and the potential for intelligent and future-proof policymaking at its fingertips. The University of Sydney’s  upcoming third Festival of Urbanism recognises that the future we’re facing is scary, but it can be bright.

The University of Sydney’s Professor Peter Phibbs – Director of the Henry Halloran Trust and sponsor of the Festival – says that while “Sydney’s growing pains are becoming more evident […] smart policy [can] accommodate growth and maintain Sydney’s position as one of the world’s most liveable cities.” Organised around the central theme City Limits, the Festival gathers guest speakers, panels, architecture tours and an international exhibition all under one roof to explore what impact intelligent planning and new technologies can have on rapid urban growth. In brief, the prevailing concern: what, exactly, is a ‘better’ city? How do we get there?

With such mammoth questions and an equally mammoth variety of stakeholders to consider, planners admit that the Festival of Urbanism is ‘high-stakes’. Bringing professionals, academics, politicians and Sydneysiders together, the Festival intends to facilitate dialogue on how a Sydney can ‘work back’ to create a more unique, more sustainable, more accommodating and more liveable city.

Guaranteed to be controversial, innovative and inspiring, the Festival of Urbanism will run from 1-10 August. See the program here.


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