Leading urban planning and design practice wins award for public space plan

When reimagining cities, award-winning national urban planning and design practice Hatch I RobertsDay (robertsday.com.au) believes that a focus on shaping great places, linking local neighbourhoods with parks, building safe routes that encourage active movement and reimagining post-COVID neighbourhoods as places where people can work and live is key to building happier and healthier communities. By incorporating these principles into their entry for the inaugural Public Space Ideas Competition by the NSW Government and Committee for Sydney, its Sydney team of designers and place-makers won ‘Best Resilient Public Space’.

The Public Space Ideas Competition encourages the reimagining and creation of public spaces across Greater Sydney to bring awareness to the region and develop new ways to evolve the city.

This month, a team at the Sydney studio of Hatch RobertsDay won the ‘Best Resilient Public Space’ category for its proposal ‘Unlocking South Sydney’s Blue Green Grid’ in a competition that attracted 500 entrants. The project team consisted of Stephen Moore (partner and team leader), Antonio Pozzi, Charlie Chen, Marc Tarca, and Oleg Bilotserkevych.

‘Unlocking South Sydney’s Blue Green Grid’ draws on the Botany Bay blue-green grid – the open water and greenery systems which make our cities more liveable. The vision rethinks how we can better use the network of South Sydney’s green waterside spaces to create more publicly accessible spaces and corridors to link communities. Hatch RobertsDay’s proposal repurposes the existing under-utilised and inaccessible creek areas to unlock 42km of continuous walking and cycling trails along the Wolli Creek, Cooks River and Botany Bay corridors. A waterside cycleway will also connect the Inner West/South to the City of Sydney via the Alexandra Canal.

Hatch RobertsDay chose to reimagine the South Sydney area due to its inner-city potential to solve our city’s mobility problems. Stephen Moore, Sydney-based partner at Hatch RobertsDay and project leader, says: “Our inner cities are increasingly facing congestion issues on the road, but there is little discussion about the great opportunity to use our natural corridors as a way to solve this mobility issue. Growing up in the area, my local understanding and familiarity of the region enabled me to join the dots of the blue green grid to develop this initial idea. If we could build a walking and cycling trail that connects South Sydney, this would allow people to easily commute on bikes through these ‘green super-highways for people’ and limit reliance on cars. Not only does it provide a safe route for inner-city travel, but it provides various physical and mental health benefits too. The fact it would be possible to cycle from Turrella to the Australian Technology Park along Wolli Creek and Alexandra  Canal within 15 minutes with only six street crossings is an incredible opportunity.”

The Hatch RobertsDay team believes the boldness and breadth of their vision will provide locals and visitors with a new iconic walk set to rival the popular Bondi-Coogee and Spit-Manly walks. It will also bring the community together through its various amenities and activations.

“Our vision puts people at the centre of it, while responding to our natural surroundings and how we can put existing spaces to better use. We wanted to create a great place that connects our linear creeks and parklands, and rethinks parcels of land that are declining or precincts that have been forgotten over time. While the walking and cycling track is the core to the vision, we also envisage new amenities and various uses of the public space to bring the community together.

“With the pandemic reshaping the future of employment and people’s work and life values, now more than ever we need to recognise the potential these opportunities bring as our places transform and people look to other models of working, living and transport. Reimagining distinctive, water-orientated neighbourhoods provide people with new ways to work and live as we recover from COVID is the number one planning priority of our time. Delivering it will positively impact on the economic, social, cultural and ecological wealth of our communities.”

Stephen concludes: “We are extremely humbled that an esteemed jury of Australian and international experts chose our South Sydney vision as a winning entry and saw the potential that it offers. We commend the NSW Government for initiating this visionary process for, and conversation about, the Sydney’s future public places. We are passionate about seeing our vision come to fruition and welcome the opportunity to partner with stakeholders and the government to create an inclusive planning process to see this through.”


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