That is what I like about the big metropolis of Sydney: the contradiction. While we are still discussing the potential for a new $1bn hotel project in the Bangaroo area, the City of Sydney has announced that two large properties on William Street are destined to become affordable accommodation for artists and creatives. The buildings are to include showrooms, warehouses, offices, stores and one-room apartments, to create spaces where the artists can work and live. The first supporter of the initiative is Lord Mayor Clover who has said: “Sydney’s creative culture attracts people to live, visit, work and invest here – but there’s no creative culture if artists can’t afford to live and work.”
Sydney is not new to this kind of initiatives. If we think of the many places in Surry Hills and Chippendale, as the building in 151 Foveaux Street that houses firm such as Ian More Architects, Lawton Design and Collins and Turner Many of these buildings are old warehouses renovated to create this vintage style studio that perfectly matches the artistic environment.
So what is new? This time the location is William Street at five minutes walking distance to the CBD, where the cost for sq m is really high and the building usually housing offices of big companies. Just last year the same initiative was realised in Oxford Street, where the City of Sydney approved the project to create a new Cultural and Creative hub.
This area from more than a couple of years is involved in an action plan to improve and promote the Oxford Street Cultural Quarter, characterised for its designer shops, fashion outlets, iconic book stores and to represent the border between Surry Hill and Darlinghurst. The Oxford Street tenants include Scale Architecture, The Fortynine, Rouse Phillips Textile Studio, the Oxford St Design Store, He Made She Made, Province and Platform 72, as well as multimedia and arts organisations.
Sydney, supporting art does not mean just increasing the space to help young creatives to develop their activities, it also means re-launching the future of a whole district. That is the case of Parramatta: a suburb of the city, not really famous to tourists and foreigners, but well-known by local residents as an unsafe area of the city.
The Trade & Investment Art Department of the New South Wales Government in collaboration with the Parramatta City Council launched the project Pop-Up Parramatta on 2010, offering training and support to develop the entrepreneurial and business skills of artists in the area; at the same time the initiative creates connections between artists, local communities and the business sector. The idea of the New South Wales government is ‘recognise that the creative industries can drive economic and urban renewal’.
That is the first sign that Sydney will be a city to keep an eye on over the next few year, not for the archistars that are working on its ground or the money invested in its development, but the contradictions. That is the first sign that can show that a city is lively. Many ideas, many voices, many interests as long that all aspects are still playing, building the city will be such as good game!
With this article I finish my time with WAN as Sydney blogger because I’m starting a new experience as intern in Architectural Review, but it is not the end of my collaboration with WAN.