The Philosopher’s Way Australia

The Philosopher’s way Australia or pwa (say pwahr) is an urban ideas think-tank and research studio. Through this lens, we are revisiting and exploring our previous ideas competitions, and re-imagining them to fit into today’s changing agenda, as a catalyst for exploring possible urban design solutions. We are apolitical, unaligned, have begun the research, and have the ability to see the patterns where others see chaos.We are well equipped to communicate these issues and possible solutions, through basic to sophisticated types of storytelling.

Overtime, Sydney’s urban grain has been formed by a triumvirate of local, state and federal levels of government. The new commitment to light rail and metro lines is welcome. However, in order to improve movement, radial lines need to be linked in order to complete loops that help to define networks. This is typical of many successful urban transport networks of comparable sizes. Therefore, pwa proposes a three step strategy to build a unified metropolis. The missing piece in Sydney’s transport matrix is a serious bicycle network, that actually services large numbers of commuters. At present, only a piecemeal patchwork of paths that do not connect exists. However, implementing a relatively low cost and low impact bicycle superhighway can greatly reduce the load on buses and during the interim, as well as become a positive long term viable alternative for the city. With e-bike technology, combined with velobahn connectivity, riders of all skill levels are potentially able to average speeds of 30km per hour. This means that the velobahn could move the same number of commuters in peak hour traffic, as arterial roads do cars, in a fraction of the space and cost.

  • Strathfield to Central Station Velobahn


Stitching A Torn Urban Fabric By Completing The Loops

Complete the Loop: Link the Bay to Beach

The Bay to Beach network expands from the White Bay Innovation Hub, to Coogee beach, passing through Sydney’s three major universities (UYSD, UTS, and UNSW), the ATP hub, Darling Harbour and the Prince of Wales and RPA hospitals. This has the potential to allow students, academics, and businesses in the area, to easily share resources, creating a Super Campus within the city, enhancing Sydney’s education boom as a driving force for our economy. It will also allow greater and more vibrant interaction on a social level, further heightening the appeal for Sydney’s campuses to students and tourists alike. Moreover, the Bay to Beach loop also links some of Sydney’s most popular tourist destinations. This can dramatically reduce traffic congestion within Sydney’s narrow inner-city streets.

Light Rail
Smart trams are now small enough to occupy the light rail infrastructure and routes of the old tram system in Sydney’s commercial strips. This ensures the ongoing commercial success of these strips and in turn supports these areas as a major tourist destination.

The Velobahn
An even finer grained network of elevated cycleways, or velobahns, would compliment and expand the overall reach of the light rail network. Its low impact infrastructure can be easily integrated into the system with little impact and low costs.

Sydney’s hilly inner west provides grade separated access to the velobahn by way of the existing rail corridor with its many cuttings and bridges already in place. This reduces the cost for ramp and lift access to the elevated velobahn. This could eventually take 30-50,000 cars off the roads coming into the city from the west. If they are done properly the velobahn can become potential future Smart-Tram routes as patronage increases. It becomes a seeding device and a serious transport network in its own right.

Using e-bikes, riders would be able to reach speeds of 35-40km/h, which is now the average speed of Sydney traffic, due to road congestion. Per meter width however, the velobahn also has the potential to move several times the amount of passengers than motorways in a safe and timely fashion. This too links through Sydney’s major tourist attractions, such as White Bay, Darling Harbour, Carriage Works, the University of Sydney, and Coogee beach. Thus it has the potential to facilitate an experiential setting where tourists and locals can ride with separation from major arterials, without exerting great amounts of energy.

Complete the Loop: Airport Light Rail & Link the Inner West to Inner East

Presently, there is no Light Rail link in place connecting the city to the CBD, as it has been deemed far too difficult and expensive to cross through SYD Airport’s massive amounts of infrastructure. However, the proposed High Speed Rail (HSR) connection to Sydney Kingsford Smith (SYD) to Badgerys Creek Airport presents a new opportunity as it will require major underground tunnelling. Therefore, we propose piggy-backing an underground Light Rail tunnel beside the HSR tunnel, creating a light rail link to SYD Airport from the city. This proposal would see a new light rail connection to both UNSW and Dulwich Hill, which would complete a light rail loop.

Light rail proposed from Parramatta through Strathfield could be extended down Parramatta Rd to George St and the Quay. Within the Light Rail Loop the network could be expanded with strategically placed smart-trams on a smaller 900mm gauge for the vibrant historic shopping precincts that grew in an earlier tram era and are a big attraction for locals, students and tourists alike. Citizens also benefit from easier access to airport and city as well.


Complete the Loop: Metro Loop to Parramatta and Unite Western & Eastern Sydney


Recently the City of Sydney has seen unparalleled development activity in the area that includes metro lines, light rail, underground motorways, Darling Harbour redevelopment, the Goods Line, Barangaroo, White Bays Precinct, Australian Technology Park Development, Carriageworks Development, Everleigh Developments, Green Square, Harold Park, New Parramatta Road development sites at Camperdown, and Housing Commission Redevelopments in Waterloo and Redfern. As Sydney increases in population we would need to connect the new metro from Epping to Parramatta.

On the existing rail corridor Parramatta could connect to Bankstown forming a metro loop with centre lines that would tie north – south(HSR through an extended Strathfield, Tri-Station Interchange) and east – west together into a cohesive whole that could allow Greater Sydney to access the metropolis at points along the loop rather than clogging up the rail system at Central or driving into the CBD. In effect de-centalising Central.