‘In stressed citydwellers, the amygdalas appeared more active on the scanner; in people who lived in small towns, less so; in people who lived in the countryside, least of all.’ Leo Benedictus, ‘Sick cities: why urban living can be bad for your mental health’, The Guardian, 25 Feb 2014
The massive East Darling Harbour (now named Barangaroo) housing and casino development is on 22 hectares of public land. The NSW Government held an international design competition which required waterfront park on 50 percent of the site. A lot has changed after much debate, sneaky government legislation, developer’s muscle and protest. ‘The parameters within which the site is being developed were set long ago, with little, if any, meaningful public participation.’ Lee Stickells
Cities remain hives of energy and entertainment and creativity and were never on human scale, but their scale has become inhuman. In fact, we should live in high-density areas with reduced material and transportation demands. Over ten years ago Jeff Angel pointed out: ‘medium-density housing on degraded sites or around railway stations is a necessity. By placing more people near public transport there is less car use and Sydney’s urban sprawl is prevented. Per capita energy and materials consumption is reduced and the city’s overall environment is improved.’(Jeff Angel, ‘Curbing our addiction to consumption’ (then director of the Total Environment Centre), SMH 13.1.2000).
The amount of land needed to produce the goods and services we consume, known as ‘the ecological footprint’t had already increased by 23 per cent in five years in NSW around the millennium. It took 7.4 hectares of land to maintain each Sydneysider’s lifestyle, an increase of 16 per cent in five years – and regional residents saw their footprint grow by 15 per cent to 7 hectares. (2003 State of the Environment report, Environment Protection Authority. Stephanie Peatling, ‘Rich lifestyles cannot go on, says EPA’, SMH, December 9, 2003).
This is 2015, the rate of building units block in Sydney has astonished me on this trip. They are necessary with such a growing population load, but this load is sinking the natural environment both here and world wide.
Before leaving we saw a couple of groups in the Now festival in the Domain.