The imagined city precedes the built city. Ideas for new buildings and precincts can reveal much about the time of their conception: economic drivers, politics, technological change, and prevailing views on society, environment and design. Cities evolve as a dialogue between the possible and the actual, with change often contested. Many visions are left behind, unrealised, ghostly reminders of the city that might have been.
Guest curated by Robert Freestone, Unrealised Sydney explores the genesis of, and community responses to, bold and sometimes misguided design proposals by governments and the private sector for redeveloping some strategic sites in and around the CBD in the second half of the 20th century. Though never realised, these schemes – shown through a range of plans, designs, models, sketches and documentary footage – form a rich part of the story that is Sydney.
Accompanying the exhibition is Realise, an interactive experience developed in collaboration with media producers Junior Major. Visitors modify precincts in Tallawoladah / The Rocks, considering factors such as environmental sustainability, liveability and productivity – then see them brought to life in the gallery.