maxcowan

The Future of Penrith, Penrith of the Future.

In General Mish-Mash on October 26, 2011 at 11:28 am

It’s been 3 weeks since I’ve mishmashed!!

I haven’t been idle, I have been mishmashing but it is not material I would like to unleash on unsuspecting readers. My mishmashing has been like swimming in a pool of quicksand – lots of thrashing only to sink. Man, how simple it is for subterranean demons to emerge from the depths – a single chance encounter can tip the boat.

Time to lighten up.

My home town, Penrith (NSW), has been the focus of attention during the Sydney Architectural Festival.

Last Saturday, the Utzon Room at the Sydney Opera House was host to a symposium entitled – The Future of Penrith, Penrith of the Future.

The symposium, and the work presented, places Penrith firmly in the sights of serious attempts to shift the nature of cities located on the urban fringes. Fringe cities. Cities that are sub-urban.

Barry O’Farrell, NSW Premier & Minister for Western Sydney, opened the symposium. And Liz Ann Macgregor  – the wonderful Director of Sydney’s MCA and, more importantly, Panthers Fan – chaired the symposium.

Campement Urbain presented a bold and ambitious vision.

To me, the detail of that plan is not as important as the function it plays.

It establishes new ways of thinking about the suburban city – certainly Penrith but also as a generalisation. It offers a new standard, a new self-belief. The process positions suburban residents to breach the limits and standards of property developers, to take control and demand new standards.

The current CBD of Penrith, looking west. Can the inhabitants take control of its future?

Most importantly it serves to create different processes and drivers of urban & suburban development.

The ideas and the way they have been developed are much more than creative and visionary. They deliver a heightened sense of democracy and a shift in the paradigm of power.

When I first met with Sylvie Blocher (Campement Urbain) in 2005 – and helped her decide to work with Panthers – I had no idea it would lead to focusing on such important issues. Sylvie is an internationally acclaimed artist who is based in St Denis on the fringes of Paris.

Our meeting was part of Panthers involvement in the C3West project – a project that sought to harvest the potential that rested in the convergence of commercial, community, and cultural endeavours. The details of this project can be found in the publication The Art of Engagement edited by Elaine Lally, Ien Ang, and Kay Anderson.

I knew then, back in 2005 – and it remains true – that Panthers had to seek out new paradigms, new ways of operating, new images and perspectives of itself, it needed to get a grip on a future that was shutting down its relevance. This is still needed.

Sylvie had prepared material that spoke to the Panthers concept of The Club of the Future. The material she delivered was both insightful and confronting – it was called The Future of Panthers, Panthers of the Future. Momentarily Panthers showed an exciting willingness to be brave and crazy.

From this point we unleashed Campement Urbain on the local community – they presented to key stakeholders who have an interest in Panthers important landholding at Penrith – those stakeholders being Panthers, the Penrith City Council, and Panthers’ partner, ING.

Once again, the aim was to shift. Shift the thinking, shift the image, shift the meaning and the rules … shift the future.

Small beginnings and shaky starts can deliver wonderful results – all you need is patience, passion, resilience, care, and attention. That’s all!!! Anyway, I feel so proud to have played a part in getting my home town starring on stage under Australia’s greatest, most famous, most beautiful and most controversial roof.

It seemed appropriate that the symposium was held in the Utzon Room, after all Utzon’s design caused multiple, and big, shifts – not the least of which was to our largest city.

Campement Urbain is a creative collaborative group. The participants vary according to the project. For this project Campement Urbain is Sylvie Blocher, Francois Daune, and Tim Williams. Sylvie is an internationally acclaimed artist. Francois is an architect and urban planner based in Paris, and Tim is an architect and urban planner based in Sydney.

A post – Penrith par le Nepean – A French Vision for Penrith – in the The Preston Institute blog provides some specific details of the Campement Urbain proposition.

  1. […] thought, the care, the creativity, and the imagination that was injected into the city through the Penrith of the Future, Future of Penrith […]

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