Lonely Planet Writer

Giant cardboard city erected in Sydney for festival

An enormous city made from cardboard boxes is being constructed in one of the largest community participation events at the Sydney Festival.

Sydney Festival builds a cardboard city.
Sydney Festival builds a cardboard city. Image by IQRemix / CC BY-SA 2.0

The cardboard metropolis is the brainchild of French artist Olivier Grossetete and has been under construction since the beginning of January, with building sessions occurring twice a day, six days a week. At each session, around 60 people help make Grossetete’s design a reality. When completed, The Ephemeral City will contain seven huge buildings and several smaller edifices.

The first-time Australian audience “wants to take part and are very keen,” Mr Grossetete told The Sydney Morning Herald. “The public [from] all walks of life always work well together. The Ephemeral City is a reflection on art and power through architecture,” he explained. “The fact that [the architecture] doesn’t last long puts the emphasis on the act of creation and the work of the collective altogether,” he said.

Cardboard boxes become art in Sydney
Cardboard boxes become art in Sydney Image by exceptinsects / CC BY-SA 2.0

By the end of the month, around 5000 rolls of brown packing tape and 10,000 cardboard boxes will have been used to construct the temporary city in the Cutaway installation space at Barangaroo Reserve. In the meantime, builders and spectators can view the construction from on high via a 165m zip line that allows them to travel over the emerging metropolis.

Festival goers will be invited to knock down the cardboard city on 26 January, Australia Day, marking the end of the installation and the 2016 Sydney Festival.