6 February 2014


The first month of programs and activities run by the Future Cities Collaborative produced some exciting developments that signal a bright future for the cities of New South Wales. The practice of Placemaking was at the fore of the workshops and events run by the Collaborative, and the results exemplify the Collaborative’s mission to inspire, inform and enable local leaders to sustainably build cities that adhere to the very highest urban design principals and practices. Cities that have joined the Future Cities Collaborative are well placed to learn from leading American and Australian experts on the latest urban design and planning developments, and gain the tools and knowledge to implement these policies in their own local precincts.

The Future Cities Collaborative was pleased to welcome Ethan Kent, Vice-President of Project for Public Spaces, based in New York, as the first American expert to take part in the newly launched initiative. Ethan introduced member cities to the practice of Placemaking, and instilled the need for designing and creating cities with people and places in mind. Ethan’s perspective was invaluable to the Future Cities Collaborative members, and represented a shift in perspective: from ineffective and inefficient top-down planning structures, to dynamic, community, and place-driven planning processes.

The Project for Public Spaces has extensive online resources and information regarding the practice of Placemaking. Essentially, Placemaking is the process of shaping the public realm to maximise shared value. It involves incorporating all stakeholders and their views to achieve the most liveable, sustainable and successful public spaces for our communities. The Future Cities Collaborative is determined to foster the relationship between The Project for Public Spaces and our member cities so to educate all on the value and importance of Placemaking and to continue to offer the resources to make Placemaking a stalwart of urban planning in New South Wales. This will enable city leaders and staff to rethink how urban planning and design is approached, and in turn help create the very best public spaces for our communities.

Furthermore, The Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has produced an extensive report titled Places in the Making: How Placemaking Builds Places and Communities. According to the DUSP, Placemaking concerns the deliberate shaping of an environment to facilitate social interaction and improve a community’s quality of life. Their report (PDF) goes into numerous case studies of towns and cities in the United States that have engaged with Placemaking, and have vibrant, liveable and thriving community precincts as a result.

As the MIT report states, put into practice Placemaking seeks to build or improve public space, spark public discourse, create beauty and delight, engender civic pride, connect neighborhoods, support community health and safety, grow social justice, catalyse economic development, promote environmental sustainability, and of course nurture an authentic “sense of place.” These goals closely mirror what Future Cities Collaborative members, particularly Waverley Council and Woollahra Municipal Council, are aiming to achieve.

Both Waverley and Woollahra are aiming to reinvigorate their target precincts, Bondi Junction for Waverley, and Oxford St and Double Bay for Woollahra, and are utilizing the practice of Placemaking to do so. Whilst in Sydney, Ethan Kent accompanied senior staff and councilors of Waverley Council on a site tour of Bondi Junction. This tour served to remind all present that great cities start on the place scale. The fine grain cheaper, lighter, quicker, solutions to street-scape problems can most often be the best solutions to reinvigorating public spaces and engaging the community in the process of urban design and planning. The street lounges that Waverley have installed along Spring St are a great example of these types of solutions, and serve to highlight how Collaborative member cities are embracing the practice of Placemaking.

In addition to Waverley’s work on Bondi Junction is Woollahra approach to both their Oxford St precinct and Double Bay town centre. The aim is to reactivate and reinvigorate both precincts to create vibrant communities where people want to live, work, shop, and socialize. Again, Woollahra utilised Ethan’s expert analysis in relation to their Double Bay precinct. The work of both Waverley and Woollahra is exemplary of the Future Cities Collaborative, where member cities can gain expert knowledge, access to leading international figures, and insight into the leading urban design principles and practices. These two councils are making full use of their investment into the Collaborative, and thriving, livable, sustainable and exciting communities will be the result.

As the Future Cities Collaborative moves forward into 2014, we will continue to mentor and monitor all member cities and help shape the communities of New South Wales for the future. In particular, the Future Cities Collaborative will be looking to Parramatta, also a member of the Collaborative, and examining in-depth their investment in the practice of Placemaking in regards to the redevelopment of the public domain of Parramatta Square. The Future Cities Collaborative will also be focusing on the concept of Transit Oriented Development, and creating partnerships between Transit Orient Development standard-bearers in America and Collaborative member cities that are willing and able to incorporate these principles in their development and planning processes.

Please contact us if you would like more information regarding upcoming events and programs, or you would like to join the Future Cities Collaborative.


Discussion with Jessica Lax from the Van Alen Institute
16 November 2016

The Future Cities Collaborative and AECOM recently hosted Jessica Lax from the Van Alen Institute, a 120 year old non-profit based in New York City dedicated to improving design in the public realm. The Institute divides their work into three areas: public programs, research and competitions.

Summary: Innovation Ecosystems Workshop - Making it Happen in Western Sydney
14 September 2016

The Future Cities Collaborative, together with Deloitte and UrbanGrowth NSW, recently conducted a workshop with Professor Ed Blakely to examine how we can accelerate the innovation economy in Western Sydney. A group of key actors and urban leaders came together to discuss the findings from our recent report, Growing the Australian Innovation Economy, and apply them to the region.

Report Launch a success | Growing the Australian Innovation Economy
14 September 2016

The official launch of the Future Cities Collaborative's most recent report, Growing the Australian Innovation Economy, co-produced with AECOM, was a resounding success with The Hon. Rob Stokes, Minister for Planning, presenting a keynote at the event that brought together an audience of over 100 key stakeholders across industry, academia and government at Customs House on 8 September.