“It's a place to celebrate the new industrialism,” says ASPECT Studios' director Sacha Coles about the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority’s project, The Goods Line. It is a rejuvenation of a 500-metre stretch of disused industrial railway track between Central’s Devonshire Street pedestrian tunnel, via Ultimo Road’s heritage railway bridge to the Powerhouse Museum. Similarities can be drawn between this project and the wildly popular High Line in New York, a public park and walkway constructed on a historic freight train line elevated above the streets of Manhattan’s lower west side.
The rail line has been blocked off since 1854. Before it was decommissioned, it was an operational rail line that brought in wool and wheat. ASPECT Studios has designed and led the project in collaboration with CHROFI, an architectural practice based in Sydney. “This is about redefining industrial infrastructure into social infrastructure and facilitating multiple people to work together at any time of day,” says Coles.
Situated four metres above the existing rail corridor, the elevated linear pedestrian and cycling city park provides connectivity between the city. On Sunday Sydneysiders were able to walk along the inner city corridor for the first time in over a century and a half.
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Concept designs have been released for the second stage extending through to Redfern, The Goods Line South, and foretell of an invigorating public precinct for students, locals and visitors, fully lit with event stages, cafes, pop-up spaces and a community garden scheme.
“There are many stakeholders involved and we’ve had to negotiate all their desires to fill the design brief. We were all united to create an urban public campus,” says Coles about the challenges of place making in inner-city areas. “Fundamentally, it's a different environment. We've added more urban greenery using existing wild grasses alongside [UTS] study pods and free WIFI.”
Coles explains there’s a lot happening next, “There are plenty of opportunities of how spaces can be used from a moonlight cinema to fashion shows. The next stop is how these events are governed and curated. It’s an exciting phase.”