Artists, designers, architects, researchers and the general community are being brought together this month (July 27 and 28) for a thinktank on art and sustainability.

The two-day event, Hothouse, which is supported by the City of Sydney, will come up with creative ways to change urban environments such as energy-efficient public art and re-inventing "McMansions".

Some of the world's leading experts who have used art and design to transform cities will be part of the symposium. They include the pioneer of "design thinking" Bruce Mau, London's Environmental and Public Art Curator Michaela Crimmin and European/Asian biennale curator Hou Hanru.

This is the inaugural event of the new National Institute for Experimental Arts (NIEA) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in association with Object - Australian Centre for Craft and Design and the City of Sydney.

"This is not just about aestheticising urban spaces, it is about transforming them into more efficient, productive places that are better to be in," says the Director of the Institute, Professor Jill Bennett, who is based at UNSW's College of Fine Arts (COFA).

"There will be real, practical solutions that come out of the symposium," says Professor Bennett, who encourages members of the public to attend.

"We want to change the way we think about exhibitions, which go for a finite period," she says. "This one will be ongoing, through the website. It is a curatorial project. It's not just about curating art, it's about curating space."

NIEA, which will be launched on Tuesday July 27, will forge new directions in curatorial research and exhibition programming, integrating COFA academic programs with innovative curatorial initiatives in Australia and internationally.

"As an academic institution, we have interesting intersections between the arts and science, the arts and engineering and the arts and social development projects, that can't be pursued on any scale at an institution that is simply geared to exhibitions," she says. "We can offer fantastic workshops - both practical and ideas-based as well as all manner of events."

What: Hothouse symposium and launch of the National Institute for Experimental ArtsWhen: Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 July, 2010Where: Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House

For more detail, go to the Hothouse symposium website.

Media contact: Susi Hamilton, UNSW Media | 9385 1583 or 0422 934 024