The future of design in Sydney is looking greener, according to Hassell Principal Glenn Scott. This can be seen in the shift from the city being dominated by cars to more space being dedicated to bike lanes and wider footpaths.

“It’s shifting the urban experience from one dominated by vehicles, vehicle noises and pollution to one where the urban environment is more pleasant and habitable,” Glenn says.

“You want to walk; you do want to use the streets. I think it’s really creating opportunities for people to reclaim the streets: footpath dining, outdoor seating and spaces for trees”.

He says Sydney CBD has become much more habitable, especially with the recent removal of cars from George Street and the introduction of the light rail and trams.

Glenn also highlights the importance of incorporating water conservation into urban design by using the substantial runoff created by streets, car parks and public spaces. He says incorporating swales and rain gardens into car parks should be the bare minimum.

“We should be trying to utilise this as directly as we can to irrigate the planning in these spaces. The old school of just collect, pipe and send into our waterways, that shouldn’t be the default.”

Putting these steps into place removes the need for artificial irrigation and means more street trees which in turn creates shade in the street and reduces heat island effects.

“So, for me, it's a win-win situation because it all becomes a lot more self-sustaining without having to build a lot of expensive infrastructure to make it work.”

He says Sydney’s future will also include smaller-scale local experiences with travellers seeking more personally tailored experiences outside the ‘tourist bubble’. Further afield, Glenn is loving the trend of revamping old motels and the unique hospitality experiences built into them, commenting that repurposing buildings is the most sustainable thing we can do.

Another passion of his is designing stadiums and convention centres in such a way that they can be enjoyed beyond major events.

“They’re really big buildings and they're awesome when they're full of people. But if you rock up and there’s no major event it’s very takes away from the event with the disparity of scale”.

Some ways to encourage more usage outside major events include incorporating large playgrounds and F&B retail to make it a destination.

When it comes to developments in major cities, Glenn comments that there are “no simple or easy sites left”.

His current project 'The Ribbon' at Sydney's Darling Harbour which will be the home of the new Imax and a W Hotel is one of the most challenging sites he’s ever seen. The building itself is wedged between two major elevated expressways with multiple ramps and the site at ground level is much smaller than the developer's air rights - all of which makes access to the site for construction quite limited.

Looking forward, Glenn has plans to design a prefabricated mass timber modular hotel, something he has seen done in Asia and Europe but not yet in Australia.

If you’d like to find out more about designing major sports venues listen to the full episode here. This podcast is brought to you in association with Stormtech proud sponsors of our 2023 Hospitality & Retail series of podcasts.