About Edible Outdoor Rooms

The Potential of Foster Street

Foster Street is a beautiful street. It has a great deal of character and charm. It is also an underutilized public space with wide vehicular way and narrow footpaths. The current street layout was originally designed for the movement of bulk goods in the early 20th century. The use of the street and surrounding buildings has changed dramatically in the intervening period. Now, there is relatively little vehicle traffic on Foster Street.  What traffic there is generally consists of cars and delivery vans whereas pedestrian activity is high throughout the day – typically made up of workers, residents and visitors attracted to the local cafes, galleries and design showrooms. The narrow footpaths on both sides of the street make safe pedestrian movement difficult and safe gathering of people on the street almost impossible. Also, there is currently no public space for workers or visitors to sit and enjoy the sunshine.

Photo of Foster Street, Surry Hills

Foster Street is a very strong candidate for revitalization and improvement and could form part of the City of Sydney’s Livable Green Network as a secondary Village Centre Precinct.

1. It is an ideal location
a. half way between Central Station and the CBD
b. half way between Chinatown and the Village Centre Precinct of Crown Street
c. adjacent to 2 proposed Cycle routes (Hunt and Campbell Streets) 
d. within 2min walk of major bus route (Elizabeth St)
2. It has distinctive architecture – old warehouse buildings, historic Hollywood Hotel etc
3. ample road width
4. thriving businesses including cafés, hotels, designer furniture outlets
5. large numbers of people – local residents and daytime visitors
6. strong social/ business links
7. a distinctive atmosphere

Location of Foster Street in the Haymarket area of Sydney CBD

There is broad and strong support from all stakeholders for improvements to Foster Street including: 

a. a more pedestrian friendly environment 
b. capacity for outdoor public seating 
c. potential for community gardening/ community activity 
d. transforming Foster Street into a day/ night precinct or destination 
e. building on the existing strengths of Foster Street as café/ small bar/ design/ fashion precinct destination 

Ideas for Foster Street

Artist's impression of the future schemes for Foster Street 

Based on our consultation with business owners, landlords, workers and visitors over the past 12 months, we have developed a scheme which reflects the initial ideas and desires of business and community stakeholders for physical improvements to Foster Street. This includes widening the footpaths to allow for the development of pedestrian-friendly public space, creating “blisters” on 3 street corners for public outdoor seating adjacent to existing cafés and Hollywood Hotel, creating a single lane of vehicle traffic heading north west, retention of parking on both sides of the street and the planting of additional street trees. 

Edible Outdoor Rooms

The temporary installation, Edible Outdoor Rooms aims to demonstrate to those in the community who are unsure of the benefits of accessible public space and edible plants growing on the street, that there are indeed a number of benefits.

Edible Outdoor Rooms creates opportunities that develop the knowledge, skills and confidence of community members, and encouraging increased participation in local activities, and in doing so building a greater sense of community. Volunteers from the community help in the planting, watering and maintenance of the edible plants. Also, workshops are run to teach people about what plants to grow in an urban environment, how to look after them, when to harvest them, and even how to cook them etc.

Anyone can use the Edible Outdoor Rooms. Use is not confined to those who can afford to frequent the local café’s/ bars/ galleries/ showrooms. They are intended as public spaces not linked to any particular business.

The installation also supports the development of a vibrant local economy and community by creating space for the community to meet and interact. The overall improvement in amenity on the street will encourage visitors and increase commercial activity.

The design of the Edible Outdoor Rooms has been carefully considered so as to minimise the use of resources. We have selected a minimal palette of materials which is largely re usable. Plants will be given away to the community or to other community gardens at the end of the period. The sections of concrete pipe will be donated to other community garden projects or recycled via Reverse Garbage or similar organisations. Soil and other planting mediums will be donated to other community garden projects

Edible Outdoor Rooms will contribute to the culture of the city by bringing the community together – in physical proximity – but also in cooperation and collaboration. Creative and cultural benefits to the city will flow from this interaction.Also, it is an innovative and collaborative project – bringing together design professionals, a chef and community members to create new public spaces.

Thanks to the encouragement of the City of Sydney and their Community Services Grant, Edible Outdoor Rooms will be a precursor for permanent improvements and widening of the footpaths along Foster Street.

Edible Outdoor Rooms will be the first realised project of the Rawson Lane Arts Association Inc.

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