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Aspiring urban designers and architects can explore the design and development of Sydney’s sustainable, high-rise Central Park in UNSW Built Environment’s first free online course.

Re-Enchanting the City: Designing the Human Habitat is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) aimed at teaching students the cultural, environmental and political aspects of urban development.

Designed by Parisian architect Jean Nouvel, One Central Park was ranked World’s Best Tall Building 2014 and has been awarded a five-star green rating by the Green Building Council of Australia.

The commercial and residential building features the world’s tallest hanging gardens, the world’s largest cantilevered heliostat (moveable mirror to reflect sunlight), internal water recycling and a low-carbon power plant.

Re-Enchanting the City is an introduction to the interdisciplinary nature of city-making,” says course designer and Associate Dean (Education) Built Environment, Oya Demirbilek.   

“Central Park has been the perfect case study for us – it is a successful, new, hyper-dense urban development situated in the heart of Sydney that relied on collaboration between built environment professionals, local and international architects, artists, the government and the community.” 

The course investigates the evolution of the development through video interviews with high-profile experts and project stakeholders including; Clover Moore, Lord Mayor of City of Sydney Council, Elizabeth Farrelly, UNSW Associate Professor of Practice and Sydney Morning Herald columnist; former Dean of UNSW Built Environment, Emeritus Professor Alec Tzannes, Director of Tzannes Associates, environmentalist Michael Mobbs and famous French botanist, Patrick Blanc who designed the buildings 1,120 sqm vertical gardens.

“Hearing from such eminent architects, urbanists and commentators, who are all engaged in the shaping of the built environment and in particular this extraordinary project, brings breadth and depth to our first online course that is difficult to beat,” says Built Environment’s Dean Professor Helen Lochhead.

Students will study One Central Park’s development from the earliest planning and site purchases through to its completion, including the examination of design innovations in green technologies, structure, construction, environmental and building services.

Associate Professor Farrelly says Re-Enchanting the City invites students to wonder about the role of design professionals in maintaining the intricate and sometimes fragile magic of cities while contributing to a green and sustainable future.

“The city is humanity’s greatest single art work, as well as our survival mechanism for the future. We must learn to make beautiful modern cities in order to enchant ourselves into living green,” Associate Professor Farrelly says.

The free 6-week MOOC, which is offered through the teaching platform FutureLearn, has already secured more than 1,400 enrolments since its launch last month.

Re-Enchanting the City: Designing the Human Habitat goes live in May and is open to all, including high school and current students or career changers.

Find out more about the course here