An International summit addressing the prospect of urban renewal in Sydney’s Bays Precinct has come to an end and according to the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) NSW Chapter President Joe Agius it was successful in emphasising the importance of the project.

The three day program, held at Eveleigh Technology Park in Sydney’s Redfern, was organised by the NSW government and included over 60 key note speakers and international urban renewal experts from around the globe as well as a host of local stakeholders including members of the AIA and Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA).

According to Agius, the event was very well planned and its scale, including the high number of international speakers and guests, was necessary for a project with this level of importance.

“One of the issues that was raised, and was also raised at the Festival of Urbanism, was that the Bays Precinct is a whole of Sydney project that needs to be thought about from the point of view of a city,” he said.

“It has the potential to benefit the whole of the country, be that engagement with the water quality of life issues and the economic aspect; the opportunity is too great to be considered at just a local scale.”

However, when quizzed on what specific developments had been proposed for the area over the coming years Agius was quick to suggest that the summit was not about putting pencil to paper and thinking myopically, but rather it was about developing a set of principles to guide design at a later stage.

“It wasn’t about architecture and prescribing anything for the different uses of the site, it was precisely the opposite of that,” he said.

“It was about reflecting on what has occurred in similar urban renewal situations in other cities throughout Europe and Asia and hearing the views of different people, be they local community representatives, politicians at both local and state level, expert in development, urban designers, placemakers, landscape architects and architects.”

Agius emphasised that the key derivative from the summit was that the project’s level of importance and scale was not to be understated and he felt that inviting international experts was an appropriate demonstration of this importance.

Among the list of guest speakers for the event was Mark Randel of David Chipperfield Architects; Rita Justesen chief of planning and architecture, in Copehagen City; Rod Simpson of simpson + Wilson architects; Hassell’s Ken Maher; and Green Building Council founders Maria Atkinson and Che Wall. 

But locals need-not fear said Agius, and he said that 2015 will play host to a lot more locally oriented consultation meetings.  

“This is just the beginning of the process, and as I understand there will be more sessions and collaborative events through 2015 which will be more locally orientated,” he said.

Agius did however hint that some specific developments were discussed including cultural facilities, medical research, I -Tech facilities, residential mixed use and a strong focus on what constitutes a healthy public domain.

Sustainability expert and Curtin University Professor Peter Newman was a keynote speaker and highlighted what he felt were the five key principles to have emerged from the summit:

  1. A transit plan that focussed on rail rather than road transport
  2. A value plan that assesses the prosperity of a variety of different options for the site
  3. A finance plan that would showcase which final outcomes would come from which sources of funding
  4. A green plan that ensure the development uses as much renewable energy sources as possible
  5. A governance and participation plan that will control the level of involvement from the variety of participating parties.  

The results of the summit will be discussed at a May 2015 meeting and you can register to be involved here: