Closed cavity façade and fully LED-lit 200 George Street by FJMT
420 George Street by Bates Smart

The crop of Australia’s young design talent have put their creative minds together to reimagine Sydney’s busiest street as a reactivated public place for people and leisure.

Finalists from the Global Ideas Competition ‘George St 2020: Re-imagine Sydney’s main street’ have been announced by the ULI Urban Innovation Initiative, revealing three concepts, all from teams whose members are under the age of 35, that transform the traditional car focussed street into a pedestrian oriented thoroughfare with infrastructure for people.

The winning concepts include a transforming colourful streetscape called “Urban Street Craft” by Christian Vitulli (team leader), an urban enlivenment designed to promote multiple populations named “George Street Living Room” by Nicola Balch of McGregor Coxall and Albert Quizon of CHROFI, and a human-centered built environment scheme dubbed “Moving Space and Staying Place” by Krystal Pua (team leader) of Tropman and Tropman.

The jury, which included Lucy Turnbull AO, Michelle Tabet, Marcus Westbury, John Choi, David McCracken and Simon Kilbane, commented that these projects grasped the challenge of ingraining human identity within an urban landscape.

“Proponents addressed the challenge by considering George Street as an activation spine, proposing a range of enabling infrastructure for people to inhabit the street more comfortably, through better amenity, design and across a wide range of uses,” reads the jury citation.

“Proponents addressed the task at a variety of scales – with many grasping the challenge of human identity within a major urban space. Landscape, connection, place, colour, program, moment, intervention, scale, human scale, journey and revitalisation were common themes across the portfolio of works.” 

In the next stage of the ULI Urban Innovation Competition, the shortlisted finalists will be mentored by property and design specialists specifically selected to address the particular concept or idea.

The judges say that they hope the ULI shortlisted teams will not only find this fruitful but also develop richer proposals that take practicalities into consideration.

About the projects: (courtesy of the ULI Urban Innovation Initiative)

Urban Street Craft by Christian Vitulli (team leader), Landscape Architect at Site

The ‘Street Craft’ vision creates a transformative urban streetscape representing the unique, multicultural heritage of Sydney. The unique design approach transforms George Street from a traditional urban space to a unique urban place, increasing street level pedestrian activity and stimulating business opportunity around the site.

The site selected for this design proposal is located on George Street between Park Street and Bathurst --‐ the southern-most end of the pedestrianized portion of George Street. The location benefits from its close proximity to Town Hall, Town Hall station and the Queen Victoria Building.

The scheme introduces transformative surface elements that are designed and programmed to create a dynamic unique place. When these elements are not in use, they are flush with the surrounding paving - when the space transforms to ‘place’, these elements are able to be extruded and utilized as tables, seats and surfaces for differing purposes. Forms for the design are derived  from the diversity of our city’s cultures and indigenous art that have been translated into the design to create identifiable zones that also act as way finding devices along the George Street corridor. The design incorporates designs and patterns illuminated as digital projections or installed as in ground led light pavers.

The Living Room by Nicola Balch, Landscape Architect at McGregor Coxall and Albert Quizon Albert, Architect at CHROFI

The George St Living Room explores how we can use the street to bring diversity back to the city, allowing a broader range of the community to engage, contribute and activate.

The George St Living Room proposes a ’services carpet’ of infrastructure – that creates the main frame for a broad ’family’ of civic elements to plug into.

This concept delivers an active canvas for urban enlivenment – not site specific but a piece of infrastructure that can be utilized in a variety of ways and locations to continually change while adding to the George St character.

The George St Living Room contributes to making a more inclusive city, one that invites all age groups to shape our most important urban space, in their own form, style and experience.

Moving Space and Staying Place by Krystal Pua (team leader), Architectural grad at Tropman and Tropman

This proposition on Re-imagining George Street is focused on viewing humans as the heart of successful city building. The scheme’s philosophy is to grow a human centered city by providing inhabitants with the means to actively engage with their built environment.

The balance between transit corridor and places along that corridor is the key to this idea while the distinctive character attributed to selected locations informs and defines what interventions will occur.

The approach to design interventions on George Street works with the light rail proposal to complement and enhance the experience of journeying between Circular Quay and Central. Interventions are carefully crafted to deliver alternate scales and speeds to users of George Street–whether in transit or at dwell points along the journey.

Whether travelling via light rail or by foot  the patron is engaging their senses with elements of the urban landscape. Sensory-engaging activities and interventions result in attracting crowds, transforming spaces into places.

The proposed stations are allocated into three categories: moving, staying and composite (consisting of both moving and staying). The function of a “moving space” is to disperse human traffic and ease congestion.  A “staying space” is where we gather passers-by, providing them with the opportunity to watch street performances, engage with artworks or indulge in eateries alongside the footpath. Composite spaces will have interventions or elements that promote both staying and moving activities. Artists are encouraged to participate in changing the artworks from time to time.