Council’s winter makeover for Wollongong CBD

Splash of colour: Workers install the new pop-up seating project in Wollongong's arts precinct, designed to add life and colour to the culutral hub. Picture: Adam McLean.
Splash of colour: Workers install the new pop-up seating project in Wollongong's arts precinct, designed to add life and colour to the culutral hub. Picture: Adam McLean.

Wollongong City Council is hoping to entice residents out of hibernation and into the city centre with a number of new art installations and night time light shows planned for the cold winter months.

In the arts precinct this week, council workers have been painting brick work, stringing up lights and installing new seating as part of a plan to get more people to use the public space.

The council’s city centre activation manager Sofia Gibson said the mini-makeover was a pilot projects designed to help people use that part of the city in a different way.

“We’re putting in colourful seating in different shapes and sizes – benches, cafe-style tables and standing tables – and we want to see how people use them,” Ms Gibson said.

“We just wanted to do something a bit creative and fun – a little colourful oasis in the city.”

“There’s about to be a whole lot more residents moving into the city in the new apartments, so this will be another little public space they can come and sit.”

Next to the new seating area, a modified shipping container will soon be installed, providing space for outdoor artist talks and musical performances.

“We’ll be holding workshops and performances over the next few months,” Ms Gibson said.

The seating project budget is $21,500, while the shipping container cost the council $26,000 and is designed to be used as a mobile creative arts centre.

The works and events are part of a push to encourage a “people-focused” city, based on the philosophies of famous Danish firm Gehl Architects. Last year, the council adopted a new city planning strategy proposing an overhaul of Wollongong railway precinct, western Crown Street, the mall, MacCabe Park, the arts precinct and the foreshore.

For each of these areas, a series of “quick wins”, like new signage, temporary and removable “parklets”, outdoor displays and art installations were flagged and a number of these are now coming to fruition..

In a similar vein, later this month – just after the winter solstice – the council and Wollongong Central will stage a three day Vivid-style event, Nights on Crown.

From June 22-24, the mall’s grey pavers will be splashed with coloured patterns, while search lights and projections will light up their sky and building facades.

“This will be all about illuminating buildings around Crown Street Mall and Globe Lane, basically to give people another reason to come into the city on a winters night,” Ms Gibson said.

“We want them to see the city in a different way: walk the spine of the city and go and eat or drink somewhere in the city centre.”