Vivid Sydney: ‘A New Normal’ Exhibition Opens Soon With Solutions for a Self-Sufficient City

A New Normal will run from 24 May until 15 June, bringing together more than fifty of Sydney’s most ambitious designers, architects, developers, technologists, brands and architects to actualise new solutions to solve some of the city’s most persistent challenges.

Presented at the Powerhouse in partnership with Vivid Ideas Sydney, Zen Energy and Landcom, A New Normal Sydney provides an opportunity to experience solutions that collectively represent a $120BN investment opportunity – into profitable initiatives that will pay for themselves within 7 years.

The 3-week long exhibition is part-gallery, part pavilion and part community meeting place, housing under one roof future prototypes that give visitors the opportunity to experience ‘new normal’ solutions for a self-sufficient Sydney.

In addition to four prototypes and light displays, more than 20 concepts form part of an exhibition that provide a near-term solution that if implemented would transform Sydney from a consumer of water, energy and other commodities within 10-years to be a self-sufficient producer of clean energy, limitless water and zero waste within 10 years.

Highlight concepts that will be exhibited include a beer made from recycled waste-water in partnership with Heaps Normal called ‘The Last Beer on Earth’’, the rehabilitation of the Cooks River,  a new take on an old community gardening model, zero-waste retail fitouts, a coat hanger-eating robot, a 1000 megawatt pumped hydro power project that will keep the lights on in 500,000 homes for 8-continuous hours and a ‘forever car’ – a classic 1973 VW squareback converted into an EV.

Led in Sydney by Jess Miller (former Councillor and Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney), the hub and activation is the result of a mass collaboration between some of Australia’s most ambitious and pragmatic thinkers. It provides a blueprint for a more sustainable decade, assembling real-world solutions to problems that can seem unmanageable and answers lofty.

A New Normal Sydney follows on from the success of its beginnings at Melbourne Design Week at NGV in 2021. Led by Ross Harding, 15 prototypes were presented, 8 of which were adopted and  three have been completed.

“We’re thrilled to be adapting and presenting this ‘do tank’ to Sydney-siders and the nation and expanding the reach of A New Normal. It is our hope that the private-sector and government will see that these practical, popular and cost-effective solutions are at their fingertips and available now,” says Jess Miller.

“This project provides a blueprint for cities on how to save water, lower emissions and minimise climate impact in a way that will create jobs and support our local economy. It will also show how these solutions can be available to all and not just the privileged few – it is massively in keeping with Vivid’s ‘Humanity’ theme for this year ,” says Miller.

“Sydney faces significant social, economic and environmental challenges, but we are also one of the most liveable cities in the world. Landcom is proud to partner on the implementation of this program which provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs and great minds to resolve these issues.

Showcasing urban agriculture and organic waste-to-energy exhibitions, inspired by Landcom’s Bomaderry and Glenfield projects demonstrates how we are driving toward a sustainable future,” says Alex Wendler, CEO of Landcom.

Lisa Havilah, Powerhouse Chief Executive says “This exhibition is a significant addition to Vivid Sydney this year. It gives some of our city’s creative luminaries the opportunity to think differently about future solves to usher our city into a new era of renewables and strong economic futures. The Powerhouse offers the ideal playground for these groundbreaking ideas, driving essential and transformative real-world impacts on where we live.”

“This is the critical decade for climate action and Sydney can and should be able to keep its own lights on. Big challenges need bold solutions. We can harness our world-beating know-how and the power of water to deliver a clean energy revolution,” ZEN Energy CEO Anthony Garnaut said.

Visitors to the meeting spot at the heart of Vivid Sydney’s action, adjacent to the Fire Kitchen at the Goods Line, will be able to experience how concepts like circularity, zero waste, renewable energy, low emission transport, net zero and unlimited water are being translated into practical projects that might just find a home in their neighbourhood, home, garage or even local shopping centre.

The exhibition will draw on empirical evidence of Sydney’s consumption of resources, backed by case studies and scientific research.

A New Normal Sydney is presented as part of Vivid Ideas as part of Vivid Sydney, an annual celebration of creativity, innovation and technology, transforming Sydney for 23 days and nights. In 2024, for its 14th year, Vivid Sydney will fuse art, innovation and technology in collaboration with some of the most boundary-pushing artists, musicians, thinkers and culinary experts of our time.

A New Normal is part of this year’s Vivid theme of Humanity, exploring what makes us human and how we can make a better world together.

Full list of twenty projects on display at A New Normal include:

  1. Renewable Energy Generation & Storage in apartments, by award-winning architect Lucy Humphrey, Solar Citizens & GHD.  This team has come up with structure that generates stores and distributes energy to people living within a high density, mixed use apartment block precinct in Wolli Creek.The concept explores how technology can be better integrated into strata and community energy models to allow low-cost renewable energy to be accessed by people who don’t have the option to buy solar panels and batteries because they rent.

  2. No Waste Fit Out – Circular Shop by Heleana Genaus, Second Edition, Scentre Group and Mud Australia. This team is providing retailers and shopping centres with a solution that avoids unnecessary landfill created during new shop fitouts. Integrating advanced algorithmic architecture robots, this is an interactive circular economy shop front providing a glimpse into low-impact retail products and design.

  3. My ‘forever car’, love a classic car but hate the idea of it breaking down all the time? Come and check out some examples of forever cars and motorbikes developed by architect Rachel Neesom, KPMG, RoEV & Ausgrid.. Electro Gusto are bringing along their lovingly restored 1973 VW Squareback and showing you what’s under the hood – a brand new EV engine.

  4. The night garden, teams from Mulpha, Landcom, Ethos Urban. Richard Unsworth, have been exploring how to reintroduce care for Country and rewilding in our cities to improve biodiversity, reduce urban heat and create a unique urban aesthetic. Come and feel and hear the sounds of a pop-up native garden that has been created by Roman Deguchi and his brilliant local First Nations team from Wildflower Gardens.

  5. The New Normal Sydney exhibition, a 1000 megawatt pumped hydro power project that will keep the lights on in 500,000 homes for 8-continuous hours, a ‘Taronga Poo’ waste to energy solution, to a flower-inspired bus stop designed to protect commuters from the elements; there are more than 20 concept on display for visitors to consider as part of their new normal at home, at work and in their neighbourhoods.


Vivid Ideas runs from 24 May to 14 June 2024. Explore the full program online at

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