The upcoming Festival of Urbanism in Sydney will seek solutions to the challenges presented by the increasing pressure on the city’s transport, public services and green spaces from the growing population.

Organised by the Henry Halloran Trust and Cities Network, the third edition of the Festival of Urbanism will open on 1 August at the University of Sydney. In line with the festival theme ‘City Limits’, the event will feature guest speakers, panels, architecture tours and an international exhibition to explore the impact of intelligent planning and new technologies on rapid urban growth to help create better cities and quality of life.

Sydney’s population is projected to grow to 5.89 million people by 2031, potentially placing the city under a great deal of pressure. Over the course of the festival, there will be discussions focussed on the current challenges facing Sydney planning, what can be done to help ease the pressure on the city, and the best ways of managing the rapid redevelopment of the global metropolis.

The University of Sydney’s Professor Peter Phibbs, Director of the Henry Halloran Trust, the sponsor of the festival, and Head of Urban and Regional Planning and Policy in the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning, observes that Sydney’s growing pains are becoming more evident to its citizens. However, the challenge lies in using smart technology, strategic investment, and smart policy to both accommodate growth and maintain Sydney’s position as one of the world’s most liveable cities.

The University of Sydney’s Professor Robyn Dowling kicks off the festival with a public talk on smart cities, followed by Sarah Hill, CEO of the Greater Sydney Commission, who will respond to Dowling and outline some of the initiatives of the Greater Sydney Commission.

In a partnership event with the Planning Institute of Australia, Patrick Fensham, winner of the 2015 NSW PIA President’s Award for planning excellence, will speak on 2 August about ‘Putting the public interest back into planning’. An urban planner of more than 30 years and lead consultant on Sustainable Sydney 2030 for the City of Sydney, Fensham is a Director of SGS Planning.

Event highlights also include a discussion panel of civil engineering and environmental experts hosted by the Sydney Environment Institute including the University’s own Associate Professor Rod Simpson (the Sustainability Commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission) on 3 August, focussing on the current limitations of Sydney’s natural ecosystems and working back from these environmental factors to create a more distinctive and liveable city.

A Sydney Ideas talk delivered by University of Melbourne’s urban geographer Dr Kate Shaw on 8 August will examine the changing culture of cities like Sydney, Melbourne and internationally, with the talk, Is Sydney Losing Its Edge, drawing on her current research on urban renewal in the 21st century.

Three leading University of Sydney academics in law, transport and interaction design will form a panel on 11 August to debate how far a city should go in adopting new technologies such as driverless cars.

Additionally, housing economist Professor Geoff Meen from the University of Reading in the UK will deliver the 2016 Annual Henry Halloran Trust Lecture on Wednesday, 27 July as a forerunner to the Festival of Urbanism.