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Placemaking is a word used a lot these days – but what defines a successful place? Can they be planned and designed, or is it something that is out of our control? Is it about the architecture or the stuff between? And when do the decisions that lead to great places get made – at policy level, at feasibility stage, at planning stage or at design stage?

Philip Graus looks at the Greater Sydney Commission and how a metropolitan level planning authority has been an important missing ingredient in Sydney’s governance that can bring citywide thinking. Murray Brown unravels the structure and remit of the Greater Sydney Commission, the relationship between each of the ‘districts’ and how policy will make its way into planning decisions. Still on the Greater Sydney Commission theme, Shaun Carter interviews Environment Commissioner Rod Simpson and discusses how design-based placemaking is the future.

Anton Kouzmin reminds us that governments have in recent years relinquished their role in driving urban renewal projects, opting for low-risk, profit-driven and opaque private sector solutions. He argues that the design of the governance structure around a project frames the design outcomes that we get.

Alec Tzannes dissects the process behind Central Park, one of Sydney’s most successful recent placemaking outcomes. He notes the importance of a rigorous masterplan, but also the commitment from the property owners to support good design through to completion. Circular Quay is one of the great places of Australia, despite a lack of a coordinated vision. But it could and should be better. Murray Brown asks whether it is time for the AIA to initiate a new round of discussions on its future.

Paul Walter looks at the hybrid study/café/club spaces in universities which ‘blur the line between campus and urban’, and we report on an Australian Research Council funded project into planning innovations at Australian universities.

Nicola Balch explains how tactical urbanism is being applied to the George Street Living Room project. April McCabe introduces us to the collaborative network supporting women-led ideas for positive change that is Urbanistas Sydney.

Away from the urban environment, Dan Plummer and Belinda Smith look at the conflicting needs of regional-based versus community-based placemaking inherent in the Tweed Regional Gallery. Glen Spicer gives us an update on the ideas for the closed heavy rail corridor in Newcastle city and notes more work still needs to be done. Noni Boyd writes about the wonderful Sirius Building whose days may be numbered. David Bennett stretches our analysis of placemaking with the use of data-based apps and City Dashboard websites that give us real-time data.

Lastly, Matt Chan has been to the Venice Biennale and gives us his take on the event whilst Tim Horton wonders why architects are still resisting the need for CPD.

Andrew Nimmo
Chair of the Editorial Committee
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