Walking the streets of our home town, Wollongong, I’ve noticed a change. Over the past five years our city has transformed itself from a neglected industrial town into a vibrant urban city. A visible change within our city is the public realm which has begun a transformation from a characterless void into a vibrant a space for pubic interaction.
What happened? A fusion of art and architecture on a grand scale. How did it happen? It wasn’t an accident, it was planned. Initiatives from local authorities, artists, and the community has created incredible opportunity for art to act as a bonding agent between once isolated buildings and deserted laneways. The public artwork is changing how we interact within the city, it’s changing how we feel. Accidental glimpses of these works during the day is often just enough to catch your imagination.
At a micro level, small-scale art works within laneways has changed the once back of house areas into tiny galleries. The artworks blur the boundaries between private and public. The blurring of the boundaries has encouraged the local businesses break through the facades and activate the public spaces.
At a macro level, the incredible multi-storey artworks are becoming landmarks. You may be confronted by a four-storey figure staring down at you as you enter a building or you may catch a glimpse of one of their faces peering at you between the city blocks beyond.
How do we as the city designers nurture this new interaction? Buildings are becoming an incredible canvas for the community. We guide our clients with the selection of façade materials that are attractive, low maintenance and cost effective. How often do we suggest artwork and the engagement of a local artist making a genuine connection with our community? We should – and we will!