Lead image: River of Life by Design by Destruction


Second-year architecture students from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) have presented proposals to revitalise Liverpool, one of South West Sydney’s major town centres, with two teams sharing top honours for their ideas.

The proposals, borne out of months of intensive research and frequent site visits, will help inform the city’s strategic 10-year-plan to rejuvenate its diverse neighbourhood and make the most of its grid layout and waterfront.

Independent think tank, Committee for Sydney, had approached UTS to run the competition with its students, and offered a cash prize of $1,000 for the winning project.

"The Committee believes that Liverpool has great potential to become a desirable, walkable centre to both residential and commercial markets. This idea combined with the fact that Liverpool has a visionary mayor and UTS wanted its students to have real world experience of designing a better Sydney – formed the basis of our collaboration," explains CEO Dr Tim Williams. 

Team Diversity were awarded equal first prize for their three-step proposal to encourage diversity within the city. This includes constructing a new walkway extending from the Westfield with capacity for markets, galleries and pop-up stores, and connecting to a large boardwalk at Bigge Park along the Georges River, which will be built using the existing pylons in the river.

This boardwalk connects people from the main city to the other wide of the train hub, and will continue to Lighthorse Park where the third phase unfolds: here, the revitalised areas will present a composition of infrastructure and landscape, with spaces for low income housing, event and exhibitions spaces, and a historic gallery to commemorate and remember how Liverpool has evolved.

“There will be the ability to interact with the river through canoeing and walking along the river bed,” adds the team. “Our three step plan ideally revitalises Liverpool and gives it a new aesthetic and appeal to current and future residents as well as the outer suburbs.”

The other winning team was Design by Destruction, who proposed using the Georges river, a “totally disconnected natural asset adjacent to Liverpool’s ‘dead’ central business district” to breathe life back into the area. This will be done by blocking off the main street and carving out new ‘rivers’ that flow into commercial areas.

“Liverpool has historically developed to keep itself away from the danger of the flooding river. And yet now, we only see potential in the water as recreational space, and activated leisure space, of walking tracks and bike paths and of cafes and amenities right down on the water,” explains UTS senior lecturer and subject co-ordinator, Tarsha Finney.

“To design for these rivers means one has to design for low levels of high summer drought and also in contradiction, for very dramatic high levels of mid-winter flood events. Between those two states is the design challenge – how to create an intervention that can use the flood as an opportunity for seasonal spectacle and for people to safely engage with the river, but a design intervention that can also connect the city to the water when the water levels are very low and it’s high summer. 

“This is what the destruction team are proposing – to utilise that seasonal contradiction, and in doing so bring water from the river up into the city centre – as a way of both enlivening and engaging people in, for example, Macquarie Mall, but also of reminding and indicating and drawing people back down to the river – using water to make that link.”

The shortlisted Bachelor of Design in Architecture candidates presented their proposals to Liverpool Council Mayor Ned Mannoun, as well as judges David Barnard from AECOM, Michael Barker from the Parliament of NSW, and academic staff from UTS School of Architecture.