“Architects always think beyond the boundary of their site,” says award-winning urban design expert Tim Williams, speaking in typically award-winning design expert lingo. But Williams believes the public are starting to think this way too – in their homes, their suburbs and their communities. They just might not realise it. “Architects feel there’s a zeitgeist – a movement in the community – and people are looking at how things connect in a broader boundry-free sense [as well].”
This all-inclusive "we're all architects" idea forms the theme of the sixth annual Sydney Architecture Festival: Beyond Boundaries. The two-weel programme features more than 80 events including guided tours, talks, open houses, workshops, exhibitions and panel discussions – and many events are free.
All well and good. But won’t it all be isometric, new urbanism chit-chat? Williams, a member of the festival’s organising committee, says no.
“Architecture is about understanding the context in which you do things, and learning to see things in an analytical or even poetic way,” he says (not exactky dispelling our fears!). “And a gut reaction is all that you need. It’s what you feel about something that is most important. You don’t need to do any homework, or to understand urban design jargon or architect speak, you just need to have an opinion.”
The public’s gut instinct is the sole star of SUPERSYDNEY, the festival’s centre-piece and a project that Williams is curating. Essentailly, SUPERSYDNEY is a conversational event that will crowdsource Sydneysiders' visions for the future of the city. “There’s a huge untapped goldmine of knowledge, information and ideas, and we want to start scratching the surface to reveal what the public think about their city.”
In the lead-up to the festival, volunteer planners and architects will interview people of all ages, locations and backgrounds to gather “dreams and visions” for Sydney. The project will provide an online catalogue of around 400-500 video interviews, and students from the University of Sydney will use the research to develop proposals for ten Sydney council areas. It's wresting town planning back for the people.
So, what one big change would Williams suggest in his own interview? “To make Sydneysiders collaborate more on what they want their city to be.”
You heard him. Go to the festival and make your vision count. It will make Williams a very happy architect.