Category Archives: Sydney

Sydney: Spice Alley

It was just a wall stencil saying “Spice Alley”, and a line of lanterns that lead us down the grey laneway.  It was only when we turned a corner did we fully realise what it was.  Spice Alley is a laneway redevelopment creating a hawker-style food area set behind some terrace type buildings.  It has several food vendors at the back fronting a courtyard space, and the front “rooms” were other shops or just paths through and seating areas.   The whole setting was well-branded and laid out with themed street art, lanterns, greenery, string lighting, and tables outside.  The space management seemed well-thought out with cleaning staff, shared toilets and all the laneways paths appeared to have gates to make it lockable at night. When you also look nearby at the surrounding blocks of significant highrises, a focus on the fine grain and existing older buildings anywhere in the neighbourhood has got to be a good thing.

The coherently structured approach made it appear to be developer lead, and yes, there is a somewhat “manufactured” feel to theses things, but I wouldn’t fault it for that. Closer to home, Southport is also starting a Chinatown a bit from scratch and that model has the city doing well in the public realm improvements, but I’m unclear how they really influence the right tenant mix.    The Spice Alley model with control over tenancy and space management actually seems to ensure a better placemaking and business model.

Really wonderful surprise find, and only reiterating my ideas that “food as placemaking” really is a thing.



Sydney: Ephemeral City

Festivals that contribute to (1) the activation of interesting urban spaces, (2) encourage community involvement, and (3) get people to think about architecture and city making is super fun ways.  Tick and TICK.  The Ephemeral City as part of the Sydney Festival, checked off my boxes.  The sheer scale of the space was great to experience, and the flying fox that darted through the ceiling was a master stroke.

Sydney’s new creative playground, the Cutaway at Barangaroo Reserve, will be home to one of the largest community participation events presented in Sydney Festival’s 40-year history, with Olivier Grossetête’s fantastically epic The Ephemeral City.  People of all ages are invited to use boxes and tape to construct a sky-high temporary city before witnessing its exciting demolition on Australia Day.