July 23, 2024 12:50 PM

Future Forum Delves into Our Potential


University of Newcastle associate professor Sam Spurr presenting a walkthrough of the Future Sites: Imagining A New Hunter Valley projects completed by architecture major students last year, they are now on display in the Donald Horne Building in Muswellbrook.


Conversations around what will happen with the land once mines are gone comes up often in the Upper Hunter.

It is also what inspired a task given to 20 architecture students at the University of Newcastle who have created a series of out-of-the-box but thought provoking concepts that have been compiled into Future Sites: Imagining A New Hunter Valley.

“I want to emphasize that it is not about problem solving, in many ways it’s about problem seeking,” associate professor Sam Spurr said at the launch event held last week in Muswellbrook.

“We’re trying to understand the complexity of the issues up here and recognizing that students are coming from the outside trying to think through all these issues, but also bringing their expertise and spatial intelligence and critical thinking and working with size and space and speculating on what features could look like.”

Following a walkthrough of the final projects there was a panel discussion about what could be possible if we thought about the wider picture of what the region needs.

The panel included Rob Cooper from AGL, Liz Watts from BHP, Sophie Nichols from Hunter Renewals, Barry Williams from the University of Newcastle and Sam.

Throughout the discussion a few things became clear such as the indigenous landscape and community need to be involved in the conversations, the need to look at the big picture for what the community needs and make sure there is constant consultation throughout with people on the street and businesses, big and small.

A desire to push the envelope was also clear, for a different perspective.

“Maybe you don’t have to necessarily come from here in order to have the vision and what could that be,” Liz shared.

“But I think definitely to execute it as an outcome and bring it to life, I think it’s easier if this is where you’re from because you will be more invested in the outcome.”

Future Sites: Imagining A New Hunter Valley will remain on display until April 5 at the Donald Horne Building, which can be viewed between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.