Over the next ten years, our City Centre and George Street in particular, will be transformed through one of the most significant public works projects to occur in Australia in generations.
In 2006, prominent urbanist and architect Jan Gehl of Gehl Architects, Copenhagen, conducted a review of public spaces in our city. Following this, he described an image of a lively and engaging place underpinned by clever planning and public art, where environmental objectives play a central role.
We’re working to close a large part of George Street to traffic and give the major boulevard back to Sydneysiders. Starting next year, the State Government will be introducing light rail, supported by modern and functional infrastructure which will make the area an inviting and stimulating place. You can find further details on our vision for a transformed George Street in the George Street Concept Design.
In May-June this year, we drafted the City Centre Public Art Plan, in which the reconfigured city centre, including new permanent works of public art, comfortable seating, shade, and plants will create spaces people will want to spend time in. To challenge preconceived notions of public art, the research for the plan has been rigorous and its recommendations wide-ranging. New works of public art will magnify the ideas that founded the city, highlight those places most important to people, and enhance Sydney’s well-known features. They will focus on Sydney’s unique topography, urban structure, exceptional climate and harbour and multicultural identities. Our intention is to address the public spaces along George Street to realise their latent potential, rather than resorting to meaningless gestures and objects.
We are also stressing the importance of the role of artists who will be involved in the project in its earliest stages and in collaboration with the urban designers shaping this project. The aim is to bring together an amazing group of artists over the next ten years by appealing to the most inventive and exciting practitioners working today. The process of identifying and selecting artists will be open and inclusive. There is a role for both monumental-scale works of public art that are strong and bold and effective tools for place-making, and small, even delicate, works of art that will add texture to the urban experience. We can’t wait to see what our city’s talented artists propose!
We currently have two briefs out to artists – one that addresses George Street as it stretches from Central Station to Circular Quay, and another focusing on the east-west connecting streets that cross it. We invite artists to submit their Expressions of Interest for either or both opportunities, closing on 31 October 2013.