Reflecting on the city from today, a multitude of interesting ideas surfaced about Sydney in its natural and urban landscape through time and different contextual concepts; design, social, political and poetic. Primarily, Sydney as a landscape seems untouched despite the city growing and evolving constantly. It was interesting to know that this city was unplanned and made around the natural landscape and topography when Cook arrived back in 1717. This lends Sydney a beautiful pattern when compared against other stringently planned and gridded cities like Melbourne. While this structure may cause navigational issues, those immersed in the living, thriving embodiment of Sydney’s history and culture have so many pockets, alleys, funny, ‘leftover’ and contained spaces to explore for creative avenues.
The concept of architecture embodying ideologies was an interesting discussion prompted by Eoghan Lewis, our SAW guide. Architecture, and conceptualizing of city design seems to be a subjective practice for every individual. In the case of the Opera House, so many references to the environment, history, landscape and society were taken into consideration in its design that Jorn Utzon had to go beyond his discipline as an ‘architect’ and immerse himself into these other facets. The need for interdisciplinary practice keeps arising in this subject, and I wonder what this concept has to offer to the urban ecological system where there are so many conflicting avenues, personas and contexts. Is there a way the City can grow towards a better and sustainable future if designers, architects, investors, councils and governments worked in conjunction with each other rather than stemming from vastly different motivations? A socialist outlook on architecture exists, where buildings give to the city instead of taking from it, I wonder if a concept of the city giving to Nature can arise.
While the urban landscape of Sydney has its natural, beautiful and poetic foundations, the present-day developments of the city create hyper-competition between architects, designers, investors, corporates, the council and the government. In this ecosystem, the City was constantly compared to a rainforest in that developers are on a constant look-out for competition. There is also a notion of foraging as they look out for other advantages to appeal to another kind of tenants, and it seems to be a game of financial gain, social commentary, progressive urban planning and creative innovation. This deeply interrelated concept of the city as a material ecosystem challenged me to consider where Nature stands in this system. And if this network insists on continuing, what is the future of the Natural ecosystems in our urban context, if at all? How can we as designers intervene with a shifted outlook on the urban ecosystem that works with and for the natural ecosystem that has been resilient so far and held strong as the foundation of our city.