The project is for a new sports and aquatic centre, and urban park in Sydney’s Green Square development zone. Sydney is justifiably famous for its unique beach and aquatic culture. The city’s It relationship with the water is deeply culturally embedded and is an integral component of its identity. However the typological relationship of Sydney’s iconic beach pools to the ocean is also unique and special.
This set of relationships of the man-made to the natural is complex and multifaceted: the recognisable ‘figure’; of the fifty meter pool sometimes clear (as at Bondi) and at other times subsumed by and into the surrounding rock outcrops (as at North Coogee), but always iconic and well loved by their users.
The complex topologic relationship is a defining feature of Sydney’s beach side pools; however is only available to those within access of the (mostly) eastern beaches. This proposal for the Green Square Aquatic Center and Gunyama Park, takes on this unique Sydney typology and adapts it for the first time as a model for an urban pool, bringing the beach to the city and closer to the demographic centre of the city as a whole.
The proposal treats the site as a whole, proposing a unified strategy for the Green Square Aquatic Centre and Gunyama Park. A landscape/building strategy is not limited by the edge of the building, rather continues throughout the entire site. The site is viewed as a continuous terrain, unifying the interior and exterior spaces as a single space.
The conceptual strategy for this terrain adopts the typological strategy of Sydney’s costal pools as a point of departure. Depositing the key pool and sporting elements as clearly defined geometric elements within a highly articulated field of landscape.
The pool precinct and park accommodates varied modes of use, from focused lap swimming to the act of seeing and being seen (the voyeur), the pool is a highly social space that must be both flexible and yet accommodate the tightly defined programmatic & technical requirements of a competition pool and sports field. The landscape elements of Gunyama Park reference Sydney is quintessentially sandstone geological character, feeling as though they are carved from sandstone (ala La Perouse); highly articulated and with broad terraces providing areas for play, relaxation, and informal sporting activities as a series of coves within the broader landscape of the park.
Formal elements within the landscape (the lap pool, program pool, hydrotherapy pool and sports field) provide a foil to the carved/terraced landscape elements, forming a visual and conceptual datum accentuating the character of both systems and clearly articulating the zones dedicated to the activities of each.
The proposal for the aquatic centre adopts the conceptual strategy for the scheme as a whole. With the unified landscape strategy continuing through the building, underneath a large floating canopy roof, with the edges of the building defined with operable glazed façade, allowing the building to fully connect the interior/exterior spaces when thermally feasible, while thermally isolating the interior when required with the minimum visual separation to the outside.
Programmatic elements requiring increased privacy/enclosure are contained within ‘boxes’ under the floating canopy, buildings within-in the greater building, with strong geometric definition mimicking the contrast of the pool/sporting ground elements to the articulated landscape treatment.
The proposal seeks to create an open space and recreation strategy for Green Square that is organic to the city in which it resides. The image of the Sydney coastline is firmly ingrained within the collective consciousness. The project draws on this in order to create a place that embodies a sense of Sydney-ness, that is unique to the site and its people.
Ben Milbourne, John Doyle, Edmund Carter, Laura Martires, Danika Irvine
Oculus Landscape Architecture & Urban Design
Completed Concept Design
City of Sydney