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Sydney Aerotropolis: The City of the Future
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By Willow Aliento
December 3, 2018
From high-spec laboratories and mid-rise residential estates to a zero-carbon World Trade Centre, the Sydney Aerotropolis is shaping up to be one of Australia’s most diverse and substantial construction undertakings.
It will actually be one of the first new Australian cities planned from the ground up since Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahoney Griffin envisioned the plan for Canberra. The 11,200-hectare site is centred around the new Badgerys Creek Western Sydney Airport, which is under construction now.
Three Precincts Underway
The city has been divided into nine precincts, including agricultural, logistics, residential, science and technology, and commercial precincts. Initial master planning for the first three of the precincts, the Aerotropolis Core, Northern Gateway and South Creek, is now in place.
Aerotropolis Core is proposed to be a mixed-use precinct providing 60,000 jobs and 8,000 homes. It is focused on attracting industries, such as aerospace, defence, technology, and STEM education.
Northern Gateway is planned to be home to more than 22,000 jobs in industries including education, tech, and food processing research and development. In addition, some residential development is proposed.
South Creek aims to be a “green spine” for the city, comprising open space, recreational facilities, restaurants, cafes and active transport links for walking and cycling. Moreover, its design should enhance biodiversity and play a key role in water management.
The Future City
While the big picture is still being refined, there have already been some firm commitments in the way of new developments. The Northern Gateway City, a 344-hectare site, is to be developed by a private consortium led by ASX-listed developer Boyuan Holdings Limited, with the masterplan designed by architecture firm OMA.
The former CSIRO-owned site is envisioned as an employment hub where approximately half of the jobs will belong to the technical, professional and scientific services sector. Moreover, it will offer education, retail, leisure and entertainment and is expected to provide temporary accommodation for workers engaged in building the Aerotropolis.
Leading neurosurgeon Professor Charlie Teo will be heading up a world-class medical and Wellness centre in the Gateway, which will provide facilities for research and teaching.
Meanwhile, Scentre Group, the owners and operator of Westfield in Australia and New Zealand, will be developing a 200,000m2 town centre featuring retail, entertainment, hotels, community facilities and parklands.
Western Sydney University has also committed to the Gateway, with plans for establishing an education, research and industry hub. International logistics firm LOGOS, on the other hand, will establish and operate a logistics hub for high-tech industries, warehousing and manufacturing adjacent to the Badgery’s Creek airport.
The BHL Consortium have been pleased to see the overall master planning process proceeding. BHL’s Chief Executive Officer, Caden Wan, said the Consortium are also pleased to see an alignment between the state government Stage 1 plan proposal and its own Northern Gateway Masterplan.
“The Northern Gateway Precinct has been identified for use as key employment land, which accommodates our plans for an active and vibrant place for new education, health, retail and entertainment and logistics facilities which is set to create up to 38,000 new smart and skilled jobs,” Wan said.
Another mega-development underway is Celestino’s $5 billion Science Park.
The first stage of the 280-hectare development will be a mix of commercial, residential, education and open space. Besides retail, commercial, co-working spaces, childcare and executive short-stay accommodation, the commercial spaces will include ultra-clean laboratories that meet a standard suitable for producing vaccines as well as a research and testing facility for Birling Avian Laboratory. Education facilities will feature a STEM-centric preschool to year 12.
The CSIRO has also committed to the precinct, launching the first “Urban Living Lab” in NSW and a Dedicated Innovation Zone. The lab will be using the Aerotropolis itself as a research project to test out strategies for urban cooling, renewable energy, energy efficiency, urban greening, water management, community wellbeing and other focus areas.
According to Paul Bertsch, CSIRO Land and Water Acting Director, collaborative science initiatives like the Urban Living Lab would enable our cities to move towards a more sustainable future.
“By working with government and industry, our research will enable Australia’s cities to become more economically, environmentally and socially resilient,” he said.
The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology organisation has also entered into a partnership with Celestino to develop a Collaborative Work Hub at the Science Park. The first sod was turned on the Science Park in August this year, with both federal and State Government representatives picking up the ceremonial shovel.
Another education initiative set to call the Aerotropolis home is Australia’s first “Multiversity,” a specialist STEM university to be delivered by the NUW Alliance comprising the University of Newcastle, UNSW Sydney and the University of Wollongong in partnership with Western Sydney University.
The four universities will create one campus with strong links to local industry, tailored vocational education and training, and STEM-focused schooling. Stage one is expected to be open by 2026, the same year the new Badgery’s Creek Airport is scheduled for completion.
Boutique developer Aerotropolis Group also has big plans for the city, with a proposal lodged for an $8 billion mixed-use World Trade Centre Sydney development.
The developers have purchased a license to use the World Trade Centre branding for the project, which includes four towers, an international convention and exhibition centres, commercial and retail space, and residences.
The design by Woods Bagot aims to achieve a zero-emissions precinct, as the energy production and storage, waste recycling and low-carbon active travel are all embedded into the planning.
A fiscal impact assessment by PwC commissioned by the developers estimated that the WTC’s financial district could create 43,000 jobs and indirectly inject $24 billion into the economy, a significant share of which would directly benefit the local Western Sydney economy.
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