Seeing harmony in the heart of Chinatown

Chinatown residents and business owners enjoyed a guided tour of the area’s new people-friendly central plaza on Sunday.

The City of Sydney has transformed Thomas Street in Haymarket into a pedestrian-friendly walkway and public space, with more trees, lighting, seating and a new artwork.

Landscape architect Jane Irwin and architect Philip Thalis worked with Chinese-Australian artist Lindy Lee and a team of designers – including a feng shui expert – to develop the plans for the new streetscape.

This work follows the successful upgrades of nearby Little Hay Street, Factory Street and Kimber Lane.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore, who led the guided tour, said the work had created a beautiful public space and improved pedestrian features in Chinatown.

“This revamp will help secure Chinatown’s place as one of our most popular destinations for tourists and visitors,” the Lord Mayor said.

“By making it easier to explore the area on foot and creating more lively public spaces, we will attract even more people to the area and further support business in and around Haymarket.”

Award-winning artist Lindy Lee is creating a gateway of dramatic circular shade sculptures suspended above Thomas Street, with the artwork to be completed later this year.

“The heart of Chinatown is where Sussex Street, Hay Street and Thomas Street intersect,” Ms Lee said.

“I love the history of this area and the idea is to maintain the integrity of the street life to make Thomas Street a magnet for pedestrian, not just in Sydney but throughout Australia, so the space we want to create will be one of harmony, activity and excitement.”

Wistia video thumbnail - Chinatown upgrade

The improvements are accompanied by traffic changes to give pedestrians priority. Thomas Street has become one-way southbound between Thomas Lane and Quay Street, and timed closures now occur between Ultimo Road and Thomas Lane.

Thoughtful “scholar” rocks and unique stone seating provide opportunities for visitors and locals to relax and enjoy the area in the heart of Haymarket’s shopping and restaurant precinct.

The plans for Chinatown were warmly received when placed on public exhibition in August and September last year.

The Haymarket Chamber of Commerce said its members strongly support improvements to public areas that have already taken place and were keen for further upgrades providing more space for pedestrians.