Please join CSU as we welcome our guest speakers Philip Thalis and HY William Chan, architects and urbanists at the City of Sydney Council, and moderator Anna Rubbo on Wednesday, February 14, 2024 from 6 PM -7 PM ET / Thursday, February 15, 10 AM – 11 AM in Sydney for our next Green Cities Event of 2024!

Sydney is a dynamic city known best perhaps for the Sydney Opera House and its stunning Sydney Harbor, an ‘emerald city’ in the words of celebrated playwright David Williamson. It is beset by the high cost of housing, traffic congestion, increasing income inequality, development pressures, greed, and a race to keep ahead of climate change in a national economy buoyed by coal exports. The City of Sydney jurisdiction includes the City Centre plus 33 inner suburbs and counts for around 4% of the population of the greater Sydney metropolis.  Clover Moore, a progressive Independent, has been City of Sydney mayor since 2004.  With a long commitment to good urbanism and addressing climate change , the City is now working to achieve its Sustainable Sydney 2030-2050: Continuing the Vision community strategic plan. Sydney City Council has benefited from several architect/urbanist Councillors who have helped shape the mayor’s vision.

This conversation between architect/urbanist former and current SCC councillors Philip Thalis (2016-21) and HY William Chan (2021-) will highlight policy in practice, and through examples discuss the challenges and opportunities in bringing about change. They advocate for more architects to engage in local politics if cities are to be resilient, equitable and better designed, and pose the question, ‘should architectural education spend more time educating future practitioners for political and advocacy roles?’


Philip Thalis, FRAIA / Former CITY OF SYDNEY COUNCILLOR / Director HILL THALIS Architecture + Urban Projects PL / Professor of Practice in Architecture, UNSW

Philip Thalis is principal of Hill Thalis Architecture + Urban Projects, a practice recognised for its independent standpoint and design expertise across a range of project types and scales. Working equally for public and private clients, the practice has won more than 100 state and national awards, commendations and competition prizes for architectural, urban, public domain and heritage projects. In 2009 Philip was awarded the AIA NSW Presidents Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Architectural Profession (jointly with Peter John Cantrill), and in 2019 was made a Life Fellow.


Philip actively promotes the culture of architecture and city making, combining practice with teaching, research, publication, lectures, community activism and architectural criticism. He has lectured extensively at universities across Australia and internationally, with a particular focus on urbanism and the architecture of the city. He has taught throughout his career and has held a Professorship at UNSW since 2017. His book Public Sydney: Drawing the City (co-authored with Peter John Cantrill) was published to acclaim.  Philip served as an Independent Councillor on the City of Sydney between 2016 -21 and continues to serve on its committees.


Councillor HY William Chan is an architect creating impact through city making and policy making. Elected to the Sydney Lord Mayoral administration in 2021, William’s portfolios include urban planning, transport, heritage, environment and sustainability, culture, creativity, and inclusion. He is an executive of Climate Emergency Australia, which represents over 100 local governments accelerating a zero-carbon economy. He was appointed the World Economic Forum’s Global Public Leadership Fellow in 2021, UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s Local Pathways Fellow in 2019, and Center for Sustainable Urban Development (CSUD) Research Affiliate at Columbia University’s Climate School since 2018. He led Sydney’s delegation to COP28, the first-ever UN Climate Change Conference to include city leaders in the decision-making process. William is a TED-featured speaker, Forbes 30 Under 30 honouree and GreenBiz Young Global Sustainability Leader of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. He was a keynote Next Gen speaker at the Union of International Architects ‘Leave No-one Behind’ Congress in Copenhagen in 2023.


Anna Rubbo, FRAIA

Anna Rubbo is on the board of the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization and a Researcher at the Center for Sustainable Urbanization (CSUD) in the Climate School, Columbia University. Previously Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of Sydney, in recent years she has focused on accelerating the take up of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in design practice and education.


Learning Objectives

  1. Understand the Motivations Behind Local Governance: Comprehend the personal and professional factors that drive architects to participate in local government.
  2. Appreciate the Impact on City Liveability, Climate Change, and Equity: Recognize the tangible contributions architects can make to enhance city liveability, address climate change, and promote equity.
  3. Learn from Civic Challenges: Gain insights from the challenges of experienced city leaders, informing their own approaches to urban design and governance.
  4. Reflect on the Role of Architects in Political and Ethical Arenas: Consider the importance of political education and ethical considerations in architectural education. Explore avenues for architects to actively engage in political roles and contribute ethically towards the city making of local communities.

Co-Sponsoring Organizations for Green Cities 2024

Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization (CSU), UN-Habitat, AIA New York, AIANY Planning & Design, the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY, Habitat Professionals Forum for Sustainable Cities, Creative Exchange Lab (CEL), Global Urban Development (GUD), and the Columbia University Center for Buildings, Infrastructure and Public Space (CBIPS)

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