Clover Moore, who’s served as Lord Mayor since 2004, is another vocal champion of urban greenery. The visionary leader is the driving force behind the pocket parks and community gardens that have proliferated around inner Sydney. “Over the last 12 years, we’ve been transforming the eroding embankments of Glebe foreshore into a wonderful space,” she explains. “[It’s a place] where families can walk, cycle and spend time next to the Harbour, looking out at the Anzac Bridge.”
“This area is home to many first-generation migrants who don’t have a voice in planning, so we wanted to create a space where the community could play, exercise or meet while connecting with nature.”
Later this year, construction will start on the latest phase of this project – an open space near The Crescent, a waterside street that borders leafy Johnstons Creek Parklands. “We’re also building a playground and a new skate space, and [will reintroduce] mangroves to create a natural habitat for birds and sea creatures,” Moore shares. “We’ve [also] purchased and demolished an old commercial building and a car yard to reclaim 8,500m2 of land.”
Over in Ultimo, a bustling suburb on the southwestern fringe of the city, a linear park floats above the traffic, next to a building designed by Frank Gehry to resemble a crumpled paper bag. Here, students from the nearby University of Technology Sydney play ping pong, commuters pause to admire plantings of velvety kangaroo paw and locals sip flat whites on cheery yellow armchairs. A metal plaque announces the site as the Goods Line, referencing its former life as a railway.
Sacha Coles is a founding director at Aspect Studios, the acclaimed landscape architecture practice behind the Goods Line. He was also part of the team who designed One Central Park, an award-winning sustainable building with a green façade that conjures the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, presiding over nearby Chippendale Green. “We wanted to build a pedestrianised spine so Sydneysiders could take power back in this part of the city,” says the lively and intelligent Coles. “This area is home to many first-generation migrants who don’t have a voice in planning, so we wanted to create a space where the community could play, exercise or meet while connecting with nature.”
His colleague, Kate Luckraft, adds that the firm is also currently revitalising the riverfront in multicultural Parramatta in western Sydney, where the weather is hotter and drier and the geography revolves around the winding Parramatta River. “This is where Sydney is growing… we need to make sure that locals are getting well-designed places and free access to green spaces along the river that they can walk and cycle to,” shares the studio director at Aspect Studios’ Sydney office. “It’s not just about an island of green – it’s about planning a precinct that people can access. I think this is fundamental to a healthy society.”