Monthly Archives: November 2013

A (temporarily) landscaped street

After months of planning, the Clovelly Road Better Block demonstration day happened on the 27th October – this thanks to the hard work of many people and the tireless efforts of Phil Stubbs, the Better Block coordinator.

The event seemed to be a great success, judging by the community interest on the day. The principle behind the demo day was to ‘install’ a representation of the kinds of improvements Randwick Council could consider for this rather bland section of the Clovelly Road ‘gun-barrell’ transit corridor.

clovelly roadClovelly Road, looking east from Arden Street – the Better Block area pre the demo day. (

This included vegetation, street furniture, services like bus stop libraries and bubblers, street art, designated bicycle parking zones and community perma-culture gardens.

By the time traffic-slowing attendants arrived and a huge semi-trailer rolled in at 7am (the latter carrying 8 x 400 litre trees and hundreds of shrubs), the street’s footpaths and roadway had magically already been spray-painted with beautiful stencil art.

DSCN1593Some of the Better Block footpath and roadway stencil art

Between 7am and 10ish, many bodies were scampering up and down the Better Block area – carrying shrubs, street furniture, display posters and all sorts of fittings and fixtures. I was thrilled to be on the back of the semi-trailer, hurling plants at all of our helpers.

tree craneLifting the 400 litre trees into place at 7am. (

The layout in the Better Block area was essentially designed to create ‘bulb-outs’ from the footpath into the roadway, within which stalls and street furniture would be placed. These bulb-outs were separated by the major trees and framed by smaller shrubs, as was the entire length of the reclaimed roadway area.

DSCN1580The Better Block area, looking west

DSCN1582The 400 litre trees and definitional shrubs in the roadway bulb-outs

DSCN1585The Better Block area, looking east

Part of the concern in planning for the day was that the Better Block event not present as an annual street fair. The organising group was very careful to highlight the point of the day – to achieve permanent streetscape change – in their signage and advertising. Any uncertainty regarding the reasons for the event were also hopefully negated by the material in the pop-up gallery that was set-up in a vacant shop in the Better Block zone. The gallery showed examples of many other Better Block events that have occurred worldwide and lots of photos of particular components important in the creation of exciting and liveable streets.

After Randwick Council is presented with the various petitions and survey material gathered on the demo day, they will hopefully be interested in examining how the event’s installations could be transposed into permanent solutions.

You can keep up to date with our latest on the Clovelly Road Better Block at

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Preservation of historic industrial sites

Funding of adaptive reuse* isn’t priceless, but it is borderless. (*Adaptive reuse is the process of reusing a place (usually old) for a purpose other than which it was originally intended).

Many prominent sites in Lodz, Poland’s third largest city, are undergoing an intensive phase of urban renewal. I experienced this on a recent trip there.


The city was, during the C19th and C20th, an industrial metropolis and one of Europe’s major textile capitals – at its height supporting numerous large factory complexes.


Due to the wealth of the city at its peak in the mid-late 1800s and early 1900s, many superb buildings were constructed. The most prominent of these have a very distinctive Art Nouveau influence – as can be seen along the city’s central Piotrkowska Street, for example.

In World War II, the Nazis didn’t destroy the city and its architecture – as they did with much of the rest of Poland – because of the value of Lodz’s industrial hardware. Instead, Lodz was annexed to Germany as part of the Warthegau – the Germans renaming the city Litzmannstadt.

Many grand parts of the city’s built fabric are now being given a second life, after decades of deterioration under the Communist era. This is most prominently seen in the remediation and adaptive reuse of several of the city’s largest factory sites, including the former spinning mill (see below) of the once enormous Scheibler Factory complex.


In the case of the spinning mill and the Scheibler site more broadly, remediation work is being undertaken with Aussie dollars.

The world is indeed a small place.

DSCN0237The plaque says “Scheiblers – the historic factory division revitalised by the Australian developer……”. A. Anderson, 2012.

DSCN0234Part of the front facade of the redeveloped Scheibler spinning mill. A. Anderson, 2012.

The Scheibler Factory adaptive reuse by Opal Property Developments is just one part of a very expansive land acquisition in Lodz by this company. According to a piece written in Purpose magazine by Opal’s Dorota Urawska in 2006, the company purchased a 21 hectare tract of land, much of which had/has dilapidated industrial structures on it. Part of this 21 hectares contains the above-described Scheibler spinning mill redevelopment. The remaining sites include a former power plant and former warehouses.

The company is seeking to develop its other land holdings for residential use and for large scale commercial and cultural venues. No doubt this developer has kept a keen eye on the evolution of the Manufaktura complex in another part of the city – also the site of a remediated former textile factory.

Interestingly, Lodz is a candidate for the title of European Capital of Culture 2016. If you find yourself with a bit of free time on your hands in central Poland, have a look at the city’s architectural re-invigoration – you might also spot some of the more than 20 giant street artworks on the sides of buildings in the centre of the city.

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