Visions of Sydney Harbour in 2030

August 11, 2010

Three design teams propose innovative solutions to climate change and rising sea levels in the AILA competition, Sea Change 2030.

The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) has announced the winning designs for Sea Change 2030, a design competition for managing and adapting to rising sea levels in urban areas.

The AILA challenged entrants to propose ways to protect the Sydney Harbour foreshore from rising sea levels, and ensure that climate change does not threaten property, parks and open spaces in waterfront cities like Sydney.

Sacha Coles, AILA NSW President, explained that the institute used the competition “to generate community engagement in sustainable development and the rapidly evolving area of climate change adaptation”.

The three winning designs include the Embassy of the Drowned Nations – an inverted island that sinks into the harbour; Subtropical Sydney – a sustainable urban renewal proposal; and Sea Life – short-term solutions that focus on access and amenity.

*The Embassy of Drowned Nations*, centred on Fort Denison, was proposed by OCULUS, Sydney. The island sinks into the harbour and provides refuge for people whose homes have been lost through climate change.

The jury commented: “This bold venture extends a hand of connection and friendship as the Harbour Bridge and Opera House did in the last century. By providing a meeting place and forum for adapting to climate change it opens the debate on conceptual engagement with other drivers of global environmental change, particularly around population and resource use… it’s an iconic engagement in a brighter future through building a world-class place for welcoming and regenerating the spirit of human adaptation to global change.”

*Subtropical Sydney* was submitted by OPSYS, USA. The proposal examines sustainable living in Sydney as a subtropical urban centre.

The jury praised the submission’s conceptual design for what South Sydney could look like in 2030. “The ideas are based on urban renewal, reintroducing ecology into the city through green arteries and waterways. They propose a vision for re-engineering the urban form for cleaner waterways, recreational areas food production in urban gardens and improved access, amenity and mobility along green arteries… What they propose is a transition of Sydney into a new climate future based on a different valuation of ecosystem services and urban land economics. “

*Sea Life*, a proposal from NMGS, Queensland, Australia and Chile, focused on protecting Sydney’s beaches with a flexible, adaptable approach that uses the triggers of climate change effects on site to evolve and deepen the sites’ existing typological performance.

The jury said: “This is an immediate and local response to global climate change… Their project based on the iconic Balmoral Beach, shows the value of typological analysis and performance responses for micro-scale harbour features such as beaches and rock platforms with an emphasis on access and amenity. This responds to the Sydney lifestyle and its focus on water-based amenity and also deals with the challenges of sea level rise alienating public space and access to safe recreational venues.”

["Australian Institute of Landscape Architects":]

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