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Sea Change 2030: Three First Prize Winners Re-Imagine Sydney Harbor for Rising Seas
Amanda Reed, 10 Aug 10

Winners of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) international ideas competition SEA-CHANGE 2030+ have been announced.

The competition invited both professionals and students to submit design proposals to protect the Sydney Harbor foreshore from rising water, or to make modifications to the environment to ensure that sea level rise won't adversely affect property, parks and open spaces.

From the professional design teams, three were chosen by the jury to share the first prize (see images below). Taken together, the three winning designs highlight "the importance of understanding both scale and short to longer term time frames for adapting to climate change impacts such as sea level rise" (per the Media Release).


First Prize Local Solutions: Sea-Life - NMGS, Queensland, Australia and Chile. Team: James Nash, Michael Marriott, Lydia Gibson, Bec Stephens. Description: "This is an immediate and local response to global climate change. James Nash and his team present tactical built environment responses to living, playing and building on the edge of Sydney Harbour. 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. Their conceptual design solutions represent a ‘good start’ for a future design manual for local government with a set of edge treatments that are pragmatic, affordable, do-able and able to be further developed into simple guidelines. These typological responses can be implemented over time through a set of initiatives that are place-based and rely on on ‘learning by doing’ – a valid local adaptive response to the uncertainty of timing about inevitable sea level rise." (via)


First Prize Metropolitan Solutions: Subtropical Sydney - OPSYS, USA. Team: Pierre Bélanger, Miho Mazereeuw, Christina Milos, Andrew tenBrink, Erik Prince, Sarah Thomas. Description: "This submission takes a regional metropolitan approach to Sydney focusing on the connections between Botany Bay, Sydney airport and the low-lying lands along the Alexandria Canal. They propose a strategic response to adapting to sea level rise and intrusion of salt water into the former estuaries of the Cooks River with a 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. Their design integrates scales of place and time while producing a high value corridor for desirable and sustainable living. 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." (via)


First Prize Global Solutions: Embassy of the Drowned Nations - OCULUS, Sydney. Team: Bob Earl, Shahreen Alford, Simon Bond, Liam Butt, Katie Cooper, Daniel Firns, Ali Gaunt, Rosie Krauss, Ben Nacard, Simon Trick. Description: "This stunning visual concept brings the boldness back into a vision of Sydney in 2030+. It presents an international response to Sydney as Australia’s only truly global city sitting on the western edge of Oceania and on the southern shores of the Asia-Pacific nations. In the background of the visualisation sits the two previous built environment icons of outstanding global significance and instant recognition. The Sydney Harbour Bridge designed and built in the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Sydney Opera House designed and built in the optimistic years of the post-world war two baby boomers in the 1950s and 1960s. Both of these previous Sydney harbour icons attracted great controversy and defied the conventional engineering and architectural wisdom of the time. This bold venture, the Embassy of Drowned Nations, 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. The bold vision of the Embassy of Drowned Nations is much more than a lament for a lost past; 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." (via)

Kudos to the Sea Change 2030+ competition for stimulating ideas, designs, and discussions around sea level rise on urban waterfronts! To see slides of all the submitted designs, click here.

Note: If you're in New York and haven't yet seen MoMA's Rising Currents exhibit, be sure to check it out before it ends in October! It's a fantastic curated exhibit showcasing five designs for "soft" water infrastructure projects in and around Manhattan that respond to sea level rise.

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