Porsche, Apple, Bose and BMW aren’t usually names associated with council benches and rubbish bins – but a collaboration between a cutting edge architect and a local metal fabricator in Sydney has won a top German design award that puts them right up there with such global design icons.
A suite of nine pieces – including benches, bins, bollards lamp posts and tree guards – from local architecture firm Tzannes and manufacturer Australian Built Urban Design commissioned by the City of Sydney – has managed to collect a coveted ‘Red Dot’ award for design and build excellence, a prize eagerly sought after by the world’s biggest brands.
The judges handing out this year’s Red Dots are certainly nothing to be sneezed at. They include Ferrari and Bullet Train designer Kiyoyuki Okuyama, celebrity shoemaker Jimmy Choo and tactile and touch interface guru Masayo Ave.
The award is a huge win for not just for the two local businesses, but also a growing push to embed world-class design into Australian cities and towns, part of a wider urbanist movement that aims to make outdoor areas as friendly and inclusive as possible for pedestrians and business owners – rather than just defaulting to spaces dominated by concerns over vehicle access and security.
The prestigious prize comes as the City of Sydney prepares to refit large parts of the city and CBD with new, high quality fixtures in areas that are now being redeveloped or where the existing fixtures inherited through previous council amalgamations are coming to the end of their working lives.
City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore is betting that the new fixtures will help make new spaces now being opened-up for pedestrians a more pleasant, interesting and accessible outdoor environment for residents, workers, visitors and tourists.
They include the new George Street “pedestrian boulevard”, an almost completely redeveloped Darling Harbour precinct, the highly controversial Barangaroo development and the massive Green Square urban infill project.
“By improving the accessibility and liveability of our city, we encourage people to treat our streets as destinations, relax, linger and have an experience that is pleasant and worth repeating,” the Sydney Lord Mayor said.
“By increasing foot traffic, we are also further supporting local businesses.”
Encouraging people to walk around Sydney’s CBD for short trips has been a major focus of the City of Sydney over recent years, not least because of chronic traffic congestion and overcrowded busses that have prompted the Baird government to dramatically expand light rail.
But to do that the City has also needed to free up far more space for pedestrians (and cyclists) and make outdoor areas more functional and appealing, part of what’s prompted the design rethink on streetscapes.
Some of the higher profile work that Tzannes has participated in include the redevelopment of Sydney’s Broadway area by developer Frasers. “We are very honoured and thrilled,” the company said of its award win in a short and modest statement.
It’s fair to say that the Red Dot award will hold a particularly special significance for Australian Built Urban Design, a division of Kurnell based Wardrope & Carroll Engineering that specialises in high quality public domain infrastructure that ranges from boardwalks and bridges to street furniture.
Originating as a “small Coppersmithing partnership started up in Darling Harbour in 1935” the specialist manufacturer will soon be installing its benches, bubblers, bins, bollards and tree guards in the very place where it first started business 75 years ago.
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