Wabi Sabi Redfern

 Matthew  Leavitt

Wabi Sabi Redfern is a community based development in Sydney where residents who are being pushed out by gentrification have a space to remain influential through the process through making, selling, teaching, learning, and growing.

Much of this project comes from research based on the book "There Goes the Neighborhood" which discusses the politics of space within Redfern in Sydney, Australia. The district of interest is ethnically diverse, low income, heavily reliant on social housing, and is the urban Aboriginal hub of Australia. The title "Wabi Sabi" comes from an eassy written by Elizibeth Turlley, a resident of Redfern who discusses this Japanese philosophy in regards to the district.

The majority of the jobs in the area came from the Eveleigh Rail Yards which was open from the 1890's to 1980, after its closure the neighborhood became run down, abandoned by those who had the means to leave and an area known for heavy drug use. It is one of the last inner city suburbs to develop and much change is happenin, including an urban renewal organized by the state government. Most of the proposed urban renewal initiative seeks to benefit those who are moving into Redfern instead of the current residents. Wabi Sabi Redfern seeks to address how architecture can help a unique local culture stay vibrant through such a tumultuous process.

This building concept contains two main elements, an existing building and a new addition. The addition compliments yet challenges the heavy masonry and sawtooth roof of the existing building. The addition sits within the shell of the existing building while creating a public plaza with the existing facade and Carriageworks directly across. This building is meant to support the community. It takes something that has the interest of the community giving it new life and purpose to help support those who love it. In turn, the people who use the building go out into the community and maintain a cycle of grassroots community growth.

Image credits


Matthew Leavitt