The Rocks Windmill – Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority


Project: The Rocks Windmill
Organisation: Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority
Place: The Rocks
Year: 2013
Project Type: Culture-led Placemaking, Curating and Programming

Michael Cohen, now director of City People, devised and implemented an arts lab ‘incubator’ model for Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (SHFA) as a way of generating activation projects that speak directly to the identity (past, present and future) of Darling Harbour and The Rocks, two of Australia’s most visited destinations. Emerging from the first laboratory was The Rocks Windmill.

SHFA saw the benefits in recreating this story in a tangible contemporary way that celebrated this history as well as talking about sustainable futures. Artists Paul Gazzola and Joey Ruigrok van der Werven were engaged to design the structure and a temporary ‘festival’ was created with over forty cultural partners for the month of April 2013. Wheat was grown on site throughout The Rocks and then visitors could then grind the grains to flour inside the mill; Costa Georgiadis ran talks and demonstrations, Bell Shakespeare performed readings of the colony’s first play; and Youth Food Movement hosted a guerilla dinner about food futures.


  • To generate visitation to precinct to support local businesses.
  • To tell the story of the windmills that used to exist in the Rocks
  • To profile SHFA’s sustainability credentials in The Rocks.


  • One month activation (7 days a week) and increased visitation.
  • Deep engagement with history of precinct
  • Extensive cultural partnerships increasing SHFA’s profile

Winner of Interpretation Australia Bronze Award 2014


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