Western Sydney to feature at Sydney Design Festival

Sydney Design Week exhibition, Design as Agency, at IPSQ

Issues relating to the design and development of western Sydney will feature prominently in discussions at next month’s Sydney Design Festival, a fitting reflection – according to Chair of Architecture at Western Sydney University Professor Chris Knapp – of the region’s dynamic transition to becoming a hotspot for design and innovation.

“The established city centre of Sydney is effectively built out, hard to access owing to congestion, and financially inaccessible to many home owners – this has resulted in serious investment in developing the ‘west’ as the new centre of the metropolitan area. In turn, this has also resulted in a need for extensive discussions about the future design of the region,” says Professor Knapp.

“Parramatta – deemed by the Greater Sydney Commission as the new central ‘river city’ – is being positioned as a leading engine for the region. Government departments, the Powerhouse/MAAS, and possibly the state parliament are all relocating there. If you add to this, the proposed new Metro West rail line, Badgerys Creek Airport and its connected aerotrpolis – it’s easy to see the huge potential for private and public sector development.” 

Western Sydney University are involved in a number of talks and exhibitions at Sydney Design Week – which runs from 2 to 11 March. They will focus on issues relating to the region’s development and design. Two events – Design as Agency and Locating Agency – have been coordinated by the University’s architecture program and are presented in partnership with Government Architect of New South Wales (GANSW), Terroir, the Australian Institute of Architects, and with support from GANSW, the School of Computing, Engineering, and Mathematics, architectus, Woods Bagot, SJB, City of Parramatta, and Aspect Studios. A third – Design Speaks – was developed by the University’s design (visual communication) program in partnership with Penrith Regional Gallery.

While all of this rapid development and change in the region is exciting, Professor Knapp says it’s vital during this time that two things are remembered: design excellence, and western Sydney’s existing cultural character and diversity.

“It is so important throughout this dynamic transition, that the goal remains to be producing the highest quality design outcomes. This doesn’t just mean quality architecture, but quality urban spaces, well connected public transport, and pedestrian-first solutions that reflect the needs of a hotter future,” he says.

“There is also a rich cultural character and diversity in Parramatta and other western centres, that is represented by a wide range of socioeconomic demographics and backgrounds – it’s a real ‘melting pot’. One hopes this won't get swept out and significantly gentrified as part of the transformation process. western Sydney can’t be conceived just as an extension of eastern Sydney’s identity.

“The iconic quality that is represented in the public imagination of Sydney currently – namely through icons such as the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, as well as the historic and contemporary urban fabric that abuts the waterfront – needs to be equaled by the western region as it grows and develops.”  

Katrina Sandbach, Director of the Design program at the School of Humanities and Communication Arts and Advisor of the Sydney Design Festival, added: “Western Sydney has an abundance of creative ingenuity, with local practitioners and organisations making significant contributions to regional economic and cultural development. We are thrilled to be celebrating some of our assets during the festival – for example, the Penrith Regional Gallery’s modernist collection, and University’s impressive Margaret Whitlam Galleries at our Parramatta South campus – which will both feature as host events of the 2018 Festival”.  

For more information about Sydney Design Festival go to: https://sydneydesign.com.au/2018/

Western Sydney University are involved in the following Sydney Design Week events and exhibitions:  

What: Design as Agency, an exhibition that will engage the imagination of the general public and anyone with an interest in the design of urban transformation outcomes regionally and internationally in a global context.  
Venue: 1PSQ (Peter Shergold Building), Western Sydney University, Parramatta, Ground Floor Atrium.  
Date: 2 – 11 March, 9am – 9pm
What: Locating Agency, this event will feature a panel discussion and presentation about the issues facing the future growth of Parramatta, the western region, and global cities. It will feature Professor Chris Knapp, Deputy NSW Government Architect Ben Hewitt, local architects Christian Derix (Woods Bagot) and Tamara Donnellan (Terroir), and other industry leaders.  
Venue: 1PSQ (Peter Shergold Building), Parramatta, Ground Floor Atrium. 
Date: 8 March, 6pm – 9pm
What: Design Speak, a public program series exploring the creation of contemporary modern design and the Penrith Regional Gallery site. This event will feature academics from the University’s School of Humanities and Communication Arts including: Dr Alison Gill: Fashion and culture; Ms Katrina Sandbach: Visual identity and branding; and Dr Michelle Catanzaro: Photography and place.  
Venue: Penrith Regional Gallery and The Lewers Bequest, 86 River Rd, Emu Plains, New South Wales, Australia
Date: 3 March, 1 – 4 pm

The University is also hosting the following exhibition during Sydney Design Week:

What:  Liberation Prison Project, an exhibition featuring artworks made by people in prison, from Australia and around the world, from 1996 until the present.
Venue: Margaret Whitlam Galleries, Female Orphan School,
Date: 2,8,9,11 March, 10am – 4pm


27 February 2018

Emma Sandham, Senior Media Officer.