Unrealised Sydney presents a fascinating insight into the future of our city as it was imagined in the past.
The imagined city precedes the built city. Ideas for new buildings and precincts can reveal much about the time of their conception: economic drivers, politics, technological change, and prevailing views on society, environment and design. Cities evolve as a dialogue between the possible and the actual, with change often contested. Many visions are left behind, unrealised, ghostly reminders of the city that might have been.
Guest curated by Robert Freestone, Unrealised Sydney explores the genesis of, and community responses to, bold and sometimes misguided design proposals by governments and the private sector for redeveloping some strategic sites in and around the CBD in the second half of the 20th century. Though never realised, these schemes – shown through a range of plans, designs, models, sketches and documentary footage – form a rich part of the story that is Sydney.
These decades saw shifting ideas about architectural and urban design, heritage, and democratic governance. Controversial urban renewal projects raised stark questions about global versus local priorities and private versus public interests.
The processes of reimagination and renewal continue apace. As we continually refashion our cities for the future, what can we learn from past unrealised visions?
Accompanying the exhibition is Realise, an interactive experience developed in collaboration with media producers Junior Major. Visitors modify precincts in Tallawoladah / The Rocks, considering factors such as environmental sustainability, liveability and productivity – then see them brought to life in the gallery.
Daily screenings of the 1978 documentary Woolloomooloo will take place at 2pm in the Warrane Theatre, Museum of Sydney, courtesy National Film and Sound Archive © Bower Bird Films.
Unrealised Sydney talk: more and before
With Professor Robert Freestone
Cities evolve as a dialogue between the possible and the actual, with change often contested. Unrealised Sydney presents a fascinating insight into the future of our city as it was imagined in the recent past. Ideas for new buildings and precincts can reveal much about the time of their conception: economic drivers, politics, technological change, and prevailing views on society, environment and design.
In this public talk, Professor Freestone will discuss some unbuilt Sydney projects not covered in the exhibition as well as delve back in time to examine schemes for ‘the Sydney that might have been’ that predate World War II.
Guests can enjoy exclusive after hours access to view the Unrealised Sydney exhibition prior to the lecture from 6pm.
The talk will run from 6.30pm–7.30pm.
Robert is a Professor of Planning in the School of Built Environment in the Faculty of Arts, Design and Architecture at the University of New South Wales. He is a Fellow of the Planning Institute of Australia, Institute of Australian Geographers, Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, and the Australian Academy of the Humanities. His books include Designing the global city (2019), Urban nation (2010), Talking about Sydney (2006), Designing Australia’s cities (2005) and Human scale in architecture (2003). Read more.