Bradfield Central Park Design by Arcadia Landscape Architecture.

Festival of Public Urbanism 2024

7-25 October 2024

Sydney events: 13-18 October 2024

Great cities are defined by the quality of their public realm. From parks to civic architecture, well designed public infrastructure supports and enables the social, cultural and economic dimensions of urban life. But are these public assets, along with public processes of urban governance and planning, under attack? Over the past fifty years key legacies of the modern urban project – such as publicly funded housing and urban infrastructure; or comprehensive planning for new development – have been eroded by waves of political and economic reform. Faith in market based ‘solutions’ has reduced public planning processes to ‘red tape’ and replaced public investment in rental housing with subsidies for private investors and households. At the same time, digital transformation under ‘platformisation’ has seen private corporations able to evade domestic regulations, disrupting every facet of urban life and governance. 

In the face of existential challenges such as climate change and deepening social inequality, public institutions, policy, and processes, are arguably more important than ever. Yet traditional, top-down forms of planning and unresponsive bureaucracies have proved ill-equipped to address the complex and intersecting social, economic, and environmental dimensions of contemporary life. What new forms of urban governance, planning, design, property ownership, or environmental stewardship could emerge instead?  Would foregrounding Caring for Country and Community paradigms in planning processes help the necessary transition from regulatory to restorative forms of urban and regional governance? How can public planning processes ensure they do not become captive to private interests, or are they already? What is the role of public architecture and design in shaping and reshaping cities and regions? How are Australia’s public universities impacting on local and regional communities?  Is Australia’s housing crisis a failure of public policy or the market? What is the role for private firms and finance in delivering public infrastructure? 

The Festival of Public Urbanism will debate these topics and more. Join us to engage with academics, activists, politicians, industry leaders through our program of panel discussions, walking tours, and podcasts across Sydney and Australia.

Banner image credit to Bradfield Central Park Design by Arcadia Landscape Architecture.