BY ENGAGING COMMUNITIES THROUGH THE ARTISTIC PROCESS, TO IMAGE A NEW VISION FOR PENRITH, (CAMPEMENT URBAIN) IS GIVING LOCAL PEOPLE THE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE A GREATER SAY IN THE WAY THAT THEIR OWN AREA IS SHAPED.
The Hon. Barry O’Farrell, Premier and Minister for Western Sydney *
After a 12-month period of community consultation and collaboration, the internationally renowned art collective Campement Urbain unveiled its vision for a Penrith of the future in October, 2011. The French-Australian art and architecture team used the aspirations and concerns of local residents to re-imagine Penrith, as a showcase for urban renewal and sustainable living which could set a benchmark for cities world-wide.
The project began as a C3West collaboration with Penrith Panthers (called The Future of Panthers/Panthers of the Future), and was essentially a vision for structural development at Panthers World of Entertainment. However when Panthers decided to proceed with the CU vision, Penrith City Council’s Director of Planning, Craig Butler, became the project’s champion and successfully lobbied to establish a commissioning consortium (including Penrith Panthers, Penrith City Council, Landcom, Penrith Performing & Visual Arts and MCA) that specifically asked Campement Urbain to develop urban planning ideas for the Penrith Train Station and surrounding area.
In February 2011, founding member of Campement Urbain Sylvie Blocher interviewed more than 40 residents of the Penrith Local Government Area, and asked them the following questions:
If you were Mayor of Penrith, what would you change?
What is your suggestion for an annual event for the community of Penrith?
What is your relationship to beauty?
Blocher’s social research formed the basis for the design work that followed. For the next seven months, Campement Urbain (now including Australian architect Tim Williams) worked to translate, into a built concept form, Penrith community’s desires for the future of their city.
Campement Urbain presented their vision The Future of Penrith/ Penrith of the Future at a symposium held at the Sydney Opera House on Saturday 22 October, and at an exclusive preview held at the Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest on Thursday 20 October.
70 people attended the preview of the Campement Urbain symposium held at the Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest. This included 40 participants in Sylvie Blocher’s research, as well as members of local council and the state parliament member for Penrith, Stuart Ayres, MP.
112 people attend the symposium, which was held at the iconic Sydney Opera House. Attendees included Penrith-based participants in Blocher’s research, members of the architecture and contemporary art communities and the NSW Premier and member for Western Sydney, The Hon. Barry O’Farrell, who officially launched the event.
The Campement Urbain project comprised 3 components: a video documentary of local residents talking about Penrith and its future; critical analysis of the geography and urban design of Penrith, articulated through a visual presentation, and the proposal for the urban recalibration and reconstruction of the city centre. The design concept focused on a nominated area around the Penrith Precinct Area.
Importantly, the symposium was formatted as an open dialogue between the Campement Urbain collective, stakeholders, and the residents of Penrith.
Tim Williams also presented elements of the project at 100 mile art Visual Learning Community, a Professional Development Day for high school art teachers organized by the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta and held at Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest, 15 November 2011.
Plans are underway to develop the project further.