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Bays West: the resilient city

Opportunities for the resilient city: Developing Bays West for a changing future

In May 2021 Architectus brought together over 70 architects and designers from across our national studios in a design charrette to explore opportunities for Sydney’s Bays West precinct. After a tumultuous almost two years of bushfires, floods and the global pandemic, we asked the teams to think outside the box and respond to major urban revitalization and regeneration in the context of urban shock, to create a resilient city. 

Architectus has been hosting this national event since 2008, with each charrette tackling a question critical to shaping our cities and urban environments. Our commitment to design research fuels our projects: both by uplifting the design thinking skills of the whole practice and generating a rich vein of new ideas for precincts, buildings and communities. 

Figure 1.
A reimagined Bays West View from Rozelle Bay

Bays West_the resilient city Fi

The resulting Bays West concept vision from our most recent charrette demonstrates the potential for a future-proofed, innovative city that has the social and environmental resilience to withstand change.  

The regeneration of the precinct can create a sense of place and community through new types of spaces to engage, learn, explore, renew and live. 

Figure 2.
Overview of Bays West


  1. Silos coworking
  2. SME workplace hub
  3. Produce market
  4. Power station + arts community centre
  5. White Bay metro towers
  6. Biosphere
  7. New medium density housing
  8. Balmain footbridge
  9. Floating ‘lily pad’ recreation pontoons
  10. Sheltered water recreation
  11. New Glebe Point Road Bridge
  12. White Bay drone cave
  13. Cruise ship terminal and exhibition centre
  14. Aquaculture ponds
  15. Marine economy zones
  16. Innovation plug and play
  17. Research campus
  18. Mixed-use
  19. University/higher education
  20. Marine innovation education hub
  21. Restored Glebe Island Bridge
  22. Ocean pool and community recreation centre
Bays West_the resilient city Fi

City shaping is a great privilege and responsibility. Inspired by Christian Hampson of Yerrabingin, Architectus’ charrette team engaged with the powerful First Nations water story of the area. The design vision restores elements of the original shoreline, provides spaces for start-ups and uses aquaculture to regenerate native species and heal the harbour. It’s strongly influenced by the idea of knitting the water’s edge back into the community.

Figure 3.
A new foreshore, view over White Bay

Bays West_the resilient city Fi

Lifecycle design focuses on the sustainable supply and demand of materials, sustainable energy and water management, bringing back native species and habitats, and use of digital tools to minimize embodied carbon.

Figure 4.
Floating recreation pontoons with marines habitat regeneration below

Bays West_the resilient city Fi

Figure 5.
Sketch view of White Bay Power Station arts and community centre and new Metro Station tower buildings

Bays West_the resilient city Fi

Figure 6.
New Balmain edge parklands
over 46 000 m2 green roof over Cruise Passenger Terminal and Exhibition Centre

Bays West_the resilient city Fi

Figure 7.
Exploring pre-colonial landforms

The potential of the precinct vision is in the numbers – an unprecedented scale of urban regeneration right on the doorstep of Australia’s most international capital city. More importantly, there is a one-time-only opportunity to implement precinct-wide, inner-urban, resilience initiatives that address community, economic and environmental sustainability.  

Social and affordable housing; district renewable energy, water and waste management; consistent foreshore biodiversity restoration; are all achievable due to the critical mass that Bays West affords. Effective precinct – and district – governance will ensure that we capitalise on this once-in-a-generation opportunity to future-proof the city. 

Bays West_the resilient city Fi
Bays West_the resilient city Fi

Figure 8.
New Glebe Point Road Bridge to White Bay Metro station tower buildings

Bays West is a testbed for innovative ways to shape our community and the concept vision from our design charrette turns this aspiration into actionNew solutions are urgently required for old problems and design leadership creates the space for innovation – the collective effort and collaborative process that will make the future. 

Thank you to our Charrette 2021 Speaker panel:

  • Christian Hampson
    CEO and Co-Founder, Yerrabingin
  • Dr Melanie Lowe
    Research Fellow, Urban Resilience and Innovation,
    Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute
  • Gabriel Metcalf
    CEO, Committee for Sydney
  • Michael Mossman
    Associate Dean Indigenous Strategy and Services,
    School of Architecture, Design and Planning,
    University of Sydney
  • Tom Osha
    Senior Vice President Innovation and Economic Development
    Wexford Science & Technology,
    Chair Global Institute on Innovation Districts
  • David Rolls
    DW Rolls Property Consulting
  • Amanda Sturgeon
    Regenerative Design Lead, Mott MacDonald
  • Theri Yip
    Student, Architectus (former)