ASPECT Studios with the City of Sydney have been awarded the prestigious national Australian Urban Design Award for their transformation of Sydney’s inner-city laneways.

This laneway revitalisation scheme was designed to reactivate a number of Sydney’s historically significant laneways.

Under the revitalisation strategy, Angel Place and Ash Street in the central precinct of Sydney’s CBD have been transformed into new public realm places which integrate public art and interpretation into the designs.

Prioritising pedestrian experience, the streetscapes of these laneways were upgraded and the kerbs at both the George and Pitt Street entries to Angel Place were extended. According to ASPECT Studios, particular emphasis was placed on revealing the Tank Stream, with a rhythmic combination of paving and steel inlays highlighting its location.


The public art installation, ‘Forgotten Songs’ by Michael Hill, Dr Richard Major, Richard Wong and David Towey, were integrated within the public domain works in Angel Place. If you walk under the empty bird cages, songs of birds that were once heard in central Sydney pay homage to the site’s historical background.

Across Sydney’s city in Chinatown, Little Hay Street, Factory Street and Kimber Lane have also been upgraded with new paving, lighting, street furniture and public artworks.

Little Hay Street was reinforced through widened granite paved footpaths and new street furniture and lighting, while street trees were planted to provide a canopy during the hot summer months. Factory Street was transformed into a shareway, with a grain combination of granite pavers and setts carpeting the ground plane.

Both streets are linked through Kimber Lane, a previously underutilised and narrow service laneway. Kimber Lane includes the ‘Between Two Worlds’ art installation by ASPECT Studios and artist Jason Wing, which features painted coloured motifs on the walls and ground, granite etching as well as a series of site specific catenary lighting elements.

The jury at the Awards ceremony in Canberra praised the revitalisation project for clearly demonstrating how public artworks can be effectively integrated into public spaces, and for changing the economic, cultural and social landscapes of the city.

“The project has lifted the rejuvenation of laneways to a new level. It has established laneways as a destination and an integral part of the city, and has encouraged new small businesses to be established, which in turn introduces more people to the city.”

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore also congratulated the landscape architects, artists, designers, engineers, contractors and the City of Sydney staff for the successful delivery of the project.

“Many of our laneways are now home to stunning public artworks, thriving small bars and other boutique businesses, providing opportunities for local artists and entrepreneurs, and contributing to our increasingly diverse late night culture.”

The Australia Award for Urban Design, which is hosted by the Planning Institute of Australia, is the premier national award for excellence and innovation in urban design.

Photography by Simon Wood