City’s changing lanes win top urban design prize

City’s changing lanes win top urban design prize

The City of Sydney, in partnership with ASPECT Studios, has won a prestigious national urban design award for its transformation of five inner-city laneways.

Under the City’s laneway revitalisation program, Angel Place and Ash Street in the City Centre and Little Hay Street, Factory Street and Kimber Lane in Chinatown have been made over with new paving, lighting, street furniture and stunning public artworks.

The laneway upgrades, which were completed in late 2011 and early 2012, received the Australia Award for Urban Design at the Planning Institute of Australia’s annual award ceremony in Canberra on Tuesday night.

The jury noted that the project had demonstrated how public artworks could be effectively integrated into public spaces, assisting to “take the undesirable and make it desirable”.

“The project has lifted the rejuvenation of laneways to a new level. It has established laneways as a destination and an integral part of the city, and has encouraged new small businesses to be established, which in turn introduces more people to the city,” the jury said.

“As part of our bid to create a more vibrant, lively and welcoming City Centre, we are committed to transforming Sydney’s network of laneways from forgotten thoroughfares into destinations in their own right,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“Many of our laneways are now home to stunning public artworks, thriving small bars and other boutique businesses, providing opportunities for local artists and entrepreneurs, and contributing to our increasingly diverse late night culture.

“We’re delighted that our work with ASPECT Studios on these projects has been recognised by Australia’s leading planners and urban designers.”

In the City Centre, Angel Place and Ash Street were made over with elegant new stone paving, widened footpaths for better pedestrian access, the installation of umbrella sockets for outdoor dining, and a timed road closure to support retail opportunities.

The highlight of the upgrade was the permanent installation of Michael Thomas Hill’s stunning artwork Forgotten Songs, which is made up of a canopy of 120 birdcages emitting the sounds of more than 50 bird species that lived in the nearby Tank Stream before colonial development.

The artwork was first installed as part of the City’s Laneways By George temporary art program in 2009.

In Chinatown, Little Hay Street, Factory Street and Kimber Lane were revamped in time for the City’s 2012 Chinese New Year Festival.

Local artist Jason Wing worked with Chinatown Public Art Curator Aaron Seeto to produce an attention-grabbing artwork in Kimber Lane, In Between Two Worlds, featuring bright blue clouds painted on the laneway walls, large metallic ‘spirit figures’ suspended above the footpath and energy-efficient blue LED night lights.

The footpath on Little Hay Street was widened to encourage more street activity, matched by new street trees and better street lighting and paving, while Factory Street was brightened with decorative light boxes and trees.

New seating on Little Hay and Factory streets was installed to allow groups and individuals to meet, relax and grab a bite to eat from nearby food courts. Factory Street and Kimber Lane were also made more pedestrian-friendly, with shared spaces for pedestrians and cars, and lower speed limits.

The Australia Award for Urban Design is the premier national award for excellence and innovation in urban design.

The City previously won the Australia Award for Urban Design in 2009 for its upgrade of Paddington Reservoir Gardens, and received a special commendation for its Sustainable Sydney 2030 vision (2009) and its submission to the Barangaroo Concept Plan (2011).

For more information, contact City of Sydney Senior Media Adviser Keeley Irvin.
Phone 0448 005 718 or email