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Photograph: Daniel BoudUrban planner John O'Callaghan

What should Sydney improve in the next decade?

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Written by
Emma Joyce
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Following on from our story about ten upcoming developments that'll shape Sydney in the next ten years, we ask eight Sydneysiders what they’d change about our city and the way we live in it by the year 2027.

John O’Callaghan (pictured above), urban planner and director of JOC Consulting, says…

“The Tank Stream runs underground from near Hyde Park to Circular Quay. But this wasn’t always the case. For thousands of years it was above the surface, supplying fresh water and fish to the Gadigal people. Today it is little more than a stormwater drain. Tomorrow, could it be a new freshwater river and green corridor for the Emerald City? What if it became a fully accessible public space to the people of Sydney?”

Nicole Monks at Barangaroo
Artist Nicole Monks at the Cutaway, Barangaroo
Photograph: Daniel Boud

Nicole Monks, artist with Aboriginal, Dutch and English heritage, says…

“It's an old idea, it's on everyone's radar and it would change the face of Sydney – an Aboriginal arts and cultural centre! It is an embarrassment that Sydney does not already have such a place. But why just one? Sixty-five thousand years of history is a lot to fit into one building – it would be great to have a whole precinct that celebrates Aboriginal culture. I believe a place designed and led by Aboriginal people and philosophy, with integrated sustainability, community and respect for country could be perfectly located either at Barangaroo or on Me-mel (Goat Island) – with the support of local mob, of course. Having Aboriginal design within the everyday environment will give us all a better sense of place and therefore help the community have a better sense of self.”

Sarah Houbolt profile image
Artist Sarah Houbolt

Sarah Houbolt, artist, Paralympian and equity and diversity officer at UTS, says…

“I’d implement principles of universal design and make sure our innovations are based on principles of accessibility. For example, I use Tripview to get on the bus and it’s great because I don’t have to see the bus coming – I know it will be here – but why don’t we have audio buttons at the bus stop that tell us the same information, like they do in New Zealand? In Melbourne I can see the edges of the stairs because they’re painted in colour contrast paint – why can’t we have that in Sydney? We don’t frost our clear glass so you don’t know there’s glass in front of you. The things that will help me will help everybody. Access has to be at the core of urban development and design, but also events and housing.”

Architect Jan Gehl
Architect Jan Gehl with Lord Mayor Clover Moore
Photograph: City of Sydney

Jan Gehl, Danish architect, urban designer and Keys to the City honouree, says…

“Sydneysiders will start to use their streets for more than just driving and parking. When George Street re-opens it will show how places once dominated by motor traffic can be better for people, with less noise, more trees and space to roam. I’d like to see more of that.”

Wesley Enoch sitting in a ball pit
Wesley Enoch at The Beach, Barangaroo, Sydney Festival 2017
Photograph: Daniel Boud

Wesley Enoch, Sydney Festival director, says…

“I believe every Sydneysider should meet one stranger every week for the next ten years. Meeting these new people would change the idea of what is different or strange to us, it would make us more welcoming to visitors and give us added understanding in how other people see the world.”

Katrina James profile image
The Westies founder Katrina James

Katrina James, photographer and founder of website the Westies, says…

“What I would really love to see is more connection between people. The average Sydneysider spends almost six hours a week commuting (if you live in Western Sydney it's close to double that). What if instead of ‘quiet carriages’ we had ‘talking carriages’ where each day there was a new question to stimulate debate and conversation between passengers? What if we had a ‘music carriage’? An ‘art carriage’ where you could draw on the walls without fear of punishment? New York and London have an awesome program of buskers that makes each train trip so much more enjoyable – Sydney could do with more places to play. Creating a city that is connected is way more than its strength of free Wi-Fi.”

Jess Scully profile
Photograph: Anna Kucera
Councillor Jess Scully by Elliot Numskull's 'Here, Now'

Jess Scully, City of Sydney councillor and public art curator, says…  

“The battles we fight now will decide what kind of city we’ll have. Will we have priced out all of the creativity and diversity? Will we be chained to the fossil fuel age, suffering the effects of climate change? I’m hopeful we can keep social and creative diversity by innovating in affordable housing policies, carving out space for nightlife, artistic expression and creative production. I see future Sydney as the creative studio of the Asia Pacific – a place where we create content and tell stories for our region and beyond. I see future Sydney as a laboratory for sustainable, inclusive design – where we will prototype models the world will need in the 21st century. The choices we make today will decide if this is a city that is a welcoming, accessible, dynamic place, where new ideas are born.”

Lisa Havilah standing in Carriageworks
Carriageworks director Lisa Havilah
Photograph: Renee Nowytarger

Lisa Havilah, Carriageworks director, says…

“I would love to see a future Sydney made up of precincts that are connected, affordable, home to diverse communities and diverse industries. Places that artists live in, that provide pathways from education to employment. Places where there can be loud music, that are high density and high amenity. A Sydney where you can achieve things because you are connected to a place and the people that live and work in it.”

Read about Sydney's new major public artwork, Cloud Arch

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