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Sydney Food Trucks Cantina Movil Untapped Cities Peggy Tee
Sydney Food Trucks:  Cantina Movil feeding the masses

For a city with a sophisticated and adventurous palate, Sydney has come late to the food truck scene. In early 2012, the City of Sydney approved nine permits for mobile food trucks as part of a trial in an urban strategy to jazz up Sydney’s late night economy. Unlike New York, there is no virtually street food scene aside from the nine approved Sydney food trucks.

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The High Line in New York City is one of the most well-known elevated parks, but around the world there are many similar urban reclamation projects underway. The success of the High Line inspired many other cities around the world to reuse and rethink space around old rail lines. Here are 10 plans from Europe, Canada, Australia, Asia, the United States and Mexico.

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Global Hashtagging Theme Winners!

Global Hashtagging Theme Winners from Chicago, Sydney, Paris and Toronto

Introducing a new twist to our weekly Instagram “Pic” from our Photo Pool. We will be doing a string of theme competitions for the best pictures tagged with #untappedcities on Instagram and Twitter. The theme for this week’s selections was “Around the World,” showcasing the Untapped eye across a diverse host of countries.

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William Feuerman Untapped Cities

Every week, we highlight one of our 300+ Untapped Cities contributors worldwide. This week, we’re featuring William Feuerman, an Untapped city correspondent based in Sydney.

What’s your “day job”?

Day seems to blend into night these days as work has become a balancing act between three main roles:

1. I am the director of the undergraduate architecture program at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) which involves teaching first year and masters architecture students, a lot of meetings, coordination of curriculums, and therapy sessions with students.

2. I am the principal of Office Feuerman, a Sydney-based design office where I am currently working on a series of practice-based research projects including a house, an experiential installation in the city and a series of architectural objects that distort one’s perceptions of space.

3. I am a father to an 11 month old, which fills all the gaps and tends to be my best distraction.

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Sydney-CBD Monorail-Untapped Cities-William Feuerman.jpg

At first glance, the gleaming blue harbour with the view of the Sydney’s Harbour Bridge in the distance does not seem like an appropriate setting for a monorail, a form of public transportation reminiscent of Disneyland. But over time this odd piece of urban infrastructure grows on you, not for what it is or what does but the unique interfaces that it has with Sydney. But on June 30th, the Monorail will cease operation, begging the question: What will become of the infrastructure?

Since it was first proposed in 1984, the monorail has been a contentious piece of transport infrastructure. Its original incarnation was aimed to stitch together redevelopments in Darling Harbour with Chinatown and the Central Business District (CBD). However, after 24 years of operation, it has reached the end of its economically viable life. In March 2012, the New South Wales government purchased Metro Transport Sydney, consequently announcing that the Monorail would be removed. In a contrasting move, Sydney’s light rail line will revert to public ownership with what the state government is calling a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity to fix public transport in the CBD.

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From the high end to the high street, Sydney’s Oxford Street is known for showcasing the finest of Australian fashion. It has an eclectic mix of funk, creativity and sophistication. Incidentally, Oxford Street is also one of the main vehicular thoroughfare connecting Sydney’s eastern suburbs to the CBD. This makes Oxford Street a busy and noisy road.

Birds eye view of the western proportion of the Reservoir Gardens.

Tucked away beneath the street, is a little gem known as the Paddington Reservoir Gardens. This public park, which so often overlooked even by locals, offers a momentary relief from the  quotidian  hustle and bustle of Oxford Street.

The view from within the gardens.

The Paddington Reservoir Gardens may be so overlooked because it appears understated. Admittedly from the street level, it looks like nothing more than a sunken ruin. However once you walk to the site’s edge and look down, you are greeted with a surprising garden.

A still-water feature, which pays homage to the garden’s original use as a water reservoir.

True to its name, Paddington Reservoir Gardens began as a water storage space for the early Sydney colony. This intended usage did not last long as Sydney’s population rapidly expanded beyond the Reservoir’s water carrying capacity. Further demise fell upon the site when half of the roof collapsed some year ago. Ironically, this is the reason why it is possible to see this part of the reservoir.

The intact eastern chamber with original wooden pillars and stone setting was used as motor storage space for a period of time.

Since then, the garden has undergone a number of metamorphoses. Soon after the reservoir was decommissioned, it was used by the Water Board as storage space. Then for more than fifty years, the site was leased as a commercial motor garage. In the 1990s, recognition of the site’s heritage values compelled works to begin on its restoration. By this time, the reservoir was all but a distant memory to most Sydneysiders.

The garden has successfully synthesised modern and historic building materials.

I recently took a tour of the Reservoir Gardens. Walking down the metal stairs into the actual reservoir space feels like entering into a different world. The place resonates with a steam punk feeling of a fallen Babylonian city. The space is defined by rusted metal beams, the brick arches, and hardy wooden pillars set in stone foundations. These elements are softened by the natural plants and flowers, and the gentle sound of the water feature. Finally the space is brought into the modern era by the lightweight metallic roof. The roof floats on top of the reservoir like a linear cloud. In that sense, the space has really been successful in incorporating elements of the past and present.

An open grassed space within the garden is flanked by stone arch ways on three sides, which reminds me very much of monasteries in Italy.

Remnants of standing structure has been turned into a shelter space.

In this sunken space, it seems as if the rumbles of the traffic along Oxford Street is all but drowned out. It feels like a quiet place for relaxation and contemplation. I spotted a man reading the paper with his dog beside him, a couple soaks up the sun on a picnic rug some distance away, and a woman leaning against the brick pillars as she edits a volume of manuscripts. Down here, there’s a mediative mood that compels visitors to listen and observe rather than speak. I stayed awhile and rejuvenated my spirits before heading back up to the street level to rejoin the daily grind.