Blog Article

What makes a world class harbour city?

It’s what happens where the water meets the land that defines the world’s greatest cities. Sydney’s Quay Quarter may just raise the bar.
 
Consider this. Two-fifths of the world’s major cities are located near water, and today there are 14 coastline megacities of more than 10 million inhabitants. Landscape architects, Dieter Grau and Zelijka Carol Kekez argue that the rediscovery of the waterfront is one of the greatest human migrations of modern times*. They believe waterfronts around the globe are experiencing an urban renaissance and are currently being revived as political, economic, educational and cultural centres.
 
And yet, according to consultancy group PPS (Project for Public Spaces) a truly great urban waterfront is hard to come by. The team from PPS looked at more than 200 urban waterfronts around the globe, and arrived at a list of just six cities, based on how well their waterfront connects by foot to the rest of the city and sustains a variety of public activities in multiple areas.
 
“These six cities offer a taste of what's possible. They vigorously incorporate the waterfront into the broader life of the community, using it to showcase their best assets. By exploring the water's edge you can get a sense of the whole city.”   PPS.

The six best waterfront cities in the world are: Stockholm, Venice, Helsinki, San Sebastian, Hamburg, and of course…Sydney.

What all of these cities do so well, is each has created a dynamic interface along their shorelines; an interface that is enjoyed equally by business, tourists and locals.
 
“It’s at the edges where the action takes place,” says architecture critic, Philip Drew. “People are drawn to the immediacy, the abruptness where nature – the harbour – meets the urbanism of the city. In cities before the 19th century, there were docks, and these were really exciting places; the zone of exchange between the outside world and us. This was diluted with the advent of shipping containers, but I think we still feel that sense of romance and frisson, when we visit a bustling place such as Circular Quay.”
 
While Sydney is already famous for its remarkable harbour, it is on the verge of joining the pantheon of truly global cities with the advent of the new Quay Quarter development. Quay Quarter is a $?? billion dollar transformation of the gateway to the city, drawing it into a dynamic new neighbourhood.
 
For 40,000 years the area was home to the Gadigal who fished its waters. In 1788, it was where the Colony of NSW was first established and Sydney began to take shape. Not surprisingly it is home to a plethora of sandstone heritage buildings, charming laneways and cultural institutions.
 
Quay Quarter has seen the painstaking restoration of these heritage buildings such as the Gallipoli Memorial Club and Hinchcliff House – both significant wool stores and places of commerce that have undergone major restoration works. Hinchcliff House is about to open (in April 2021) as a 3-level Italian-inspired dining destination with a moody basement bar.
 
Another highlight of the development will see people moving into the CBD to live. Three Australian architectural firms have designed a vibrant mix of ultra-luxury apartments. And while each of the buildings is distinctive in its own right, all have used masonry to distinguish the residential property, speak to the surrounding sandstone heritage and taps into the area’s diversity.
 
Upon completion, the neighbourhood is set to become a buzzy 18/7 destination of cobbled laneways lined with cafes, restaurants and boutiques, attracting residents, local workers and tourists. Public artwork and landscaping will also figure in the design, creating a sense of space and wellbeing.
 
Soaring over it all will be the striking Quay Quarter Tower; a vertical village of high-end commercial office space, market hall, and one-acre podium sky garden. Designed by Danish architects, 3XN, Quay Quarter Tower will be a world-class building in a world-class precinct; and located on Sydney’s cultural ribbon nearby the iconic Sydney Opera House, Royal Botanic Gardens, Museum of Contemporary Art and the sparkling harbour itself.
 
While the anchor tenancy in Hinchcliff House will open in April 2021, the retail precinct of Quay Quarter Lanes is set to open in September 2021 and the Tower is expected to open in 2022. There’s little doubt that Quay Quarter will cement Sydney’s reputation as a place to work, live, relax and play; a place where the water’s edge meets the one of the greatest harbours in the world.
  
*Where Water Meets the Land: The rediscovery of the Waterfront.
Dieter Grau/Zeljka Carol Kekez.