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Focus Ideas and projects for positive change. Text: April McCabe

Urbanistas Positively Changing Places Through Collaboration

Focus Ideas and projects for positive change. Text: April McCabe

Across the world and certainly in Sydney, we are seeing more collaborative networks popping up in response to specific urban issues and a desire for a collective voice as a way to influence how cities evolve and change. The rise of the sharing economy and increasing social networks allow for solutions to be borne out from a disruptive, noninstitutional, spontaneous, DIY and place-specific approach.

Urbanistas started in London four years ago by Liane Hartley and now has seven chapters across the UK and in Sydney. It all started in recognition of women’s networking capacity and to seize the opportunity to do things differently, to lead and encourage each other to develop ideas that have a positive social benefit for cities, places and people. A driving motivation was that despite there being an abundance of amazing women, we are still largely underrepresented; as leaders, as innovators, as voices and as role models.

Urbanistas Sydney is amplifying the voice of women by supporting women-led ideas and projects that create positive change. Our network represents a diverse range of professional backgrounds, with many of the ideas and projects having strong placemaking elements, such as the creation of a new mural on Oxford Street or the call to build and install a street library. These ideas reflect the shared interest and desire to positively influence the ‘everyday’ within our neighbourhoods and city spaces.

A core philosophy is that we inspire, share and do. We offer a space for ‘the pitch’ – providing a supportive space for women to share their idea, ‘crowdsource’ expertise and find collaborators to help turn the idea into reality. At this year’s Sydney Architecture Festival we are going live and opening the event to both women and men.

Urbanistas Sydney in collaboration with BKA Architecture and the Sydney Architecture Festival (1–3 October) are taking the crowdfunding model from the virtual into the real world. The (sh)ArchTank will be a night full of potential DIY solutions pitched by changemakers and an opportunity to hear about past projects that show the power of ‘architecture in the cracks’. You will not only be inspired by the pitches, but you can be part of making them happen.

Our neighbourhoods are rapidly changing. A challenge for all built environment professionals is how to provide urban places and experiences that improve the everyday lives and connections of residents, workers and visitors. We are calling all people from across the built environment spectrum and city enthusiasts to submit their project idea that responds to this challenge in an unusual, surprising and realisable way.

April McCabe is the founder of Urbanistas Sydney and a policy advisor for Clover Moore, Lord Mayor of Sydney

sydurbanistas.weebly.com @SydUrbanistas

(sh)ArchTank, Sunday 2 October
To download the EOI brief, go to sydneyarchitecturefestival.org/program/the-sharchtank and send us your pitch. The selected project ideas will be given the opportunity to jump into the (sh)ArchTank, deliver a quick-fire pitch to garner audience support on the night and get a small amount of seed funding and some expert support to turn their idea into a reality. See the full Festival program at sydneyarchitecturefestival.org – and visit the website for your ticket to enter the (sh)ArchTank on Sunday 2 October and info on how to submit your project idea and a chance to pitch.

  • Urbanistas with Oxford Street Activators painting a new mural on Oxford Street, Darlinghurst. Photo: Simone Sheridan