City News

New inner-city creative hub possible trend for cities post-lockdown

The City has signed a 99 year lease on a new creative hub spanning 2,000 sqm over five storeys. Photo: Paul Patterson

By EVA BAXTER

Theatre and Brand X director James Winter said the City of Sydney’s new Creative Studios are a significant statement for the direction of cities following lockdowns.

The surge in working from home and retreat of people to regional areas during lockdown has left cities empty and sometimes idle.

The City has signed a 99 year lease on the $25 million creative hub via a Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA) with developer Greenland Australia.

The hub will span 2,000 sqm over five storeys and will be located on Bathurst Street at the old Sydney Water site.

It will feature rehearsal spaces, customised studios, offices and production rooms, and a live/work apartment for a creative fellowship program.

“I think it’s very significant that the City of Sydney have invested in a VPA which gives 2,000 square meters of space to the creative community,” Winter told City Hub.

“I think this is going to be the trend that we’re going to watch, is that cities will return back to bespoke human scale driven environments and the arts community has got to play a huge role in that.

“My hope is that independent artists have a seat at that table because they’re the ones that are going to be creating the new culture with new ideas, representing diverse voices across our society.”

Repurpose renaissance

Brand X, a not-for-profit organisation primarily providing workspace for the local independent arts community will operate the facility for a three-year term.

Since its inception in 2005, Brand X has repurposed approximately 17 properties usually in pre-development phase awaiting Development Applications.

Brand X created Fraser Studios on Kensington Street which operated rehearsal studios, visual arts workspaces, a gallery, and event space in warehouses on the strip which became Spice Alley.

In addition to the creative hub, Greenland is developing a $440 million, 67-storey 490 residential apartment block and ground-floor retail space, while a 173-room hotel will also be built on a neighbouring site fronting Pitt Street.

According to Brand X Director James Winter, VPA’s negotiate opportunities for developers to get increased height or increased floor space in exchange for giving community assets either before or entrenched into the new building.

Winter hopes the impact of COVID might propel an investment in culture, arts, and hospitality and a culture which encourages individuality of spaces in cities.

Successful negotiation by Brand X means 60% of the Creative Studios resources will be available to people who are less likely to be able to afford them, and 40% to major organisations.

“The exciting thing is the energy of significant volumes of artists in a space or in a building concentrating on new ideas.

“The informal exciting part of that is the relationships and collaborations that happen in the common areas of the space.

“Everyone recognizes that it’s containing all these really exciting people and exciting ideas and they start talking to each other which hopefully form the next ensembles, next companies, next projects, next collaborations,” said Winter.

The final building works and fit out of the Creative Studios is underway and set to be open early 2022.

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