Green Square Sydney – Gunyama Park and Aquatic Centre Competition – 2014

The Green Square Aquatic Centre competition began in May of 2014. 17th June 2014 5 entries from Sydney were shortlisted. The competition breif required a park, with sports field and an aquatic centre. Our summary of our entry is as follows:

The site of this competition presents an opportunity to understand the history and ideology of this land and its users – the traditional owners, current and future populations. We wanted to acknowledge the Eora people the traditional owners of this land and draw upon their reverence for the land in our design.

We closed our eyes and dreamt about what was possible; we saw a billabong, gum trees and a place for people to congregate – a place for social connection. Ideas on the circulation of green paths (people’s footprints), sky trees (representing the giant River Red Gum on the banks of the rivers and billabongs) as well as the green wall (rock facade and finger paintings) were then abstractly integrated into the architecture.

This concept enabled a smaller building footprint and an urban space at ground level. Each “tree” has its own definitive purpose and “branches” providing the connections at various upper levels. Looking up from the urban base, one sees the buildings and skywalks emulating tree branches with filtered views of the sky: a living and organic structure. The “billabong” from the Drying Green is continued through the easement. Walkways / bridges across the billabong connect the aquatic centre to the sports field, parkland and a visual link to the existing hospital site.

The façade is covered with minute wind silos that not only provide visual interest but generate power. This is visually exciting, as it adds a powerful sustainability value statement for this forward-thinking community project.

The urban spaces are designed to encourage ecological design, develop collaborative community infrastructure and to maximize the social impact in this space. The ground level becomes a place to meet friends, have lunch, and enjoy the sun. It can be used for specialty markets and public art/ music space or other community gatherings.

The landscape design creates uninterrupted visual and physical links from the existing hospital/community centre, under the aquatic centre to the sports pavilion beyond. The visually open ground level and a series of walkways at different levels above also provide passive surveillance of the areas above and below. The sports pavilion has views back to the field and aquatic centre. The elevated gardens in the aquatic centre have been created on walkways and intermediate roofs. The roof top gardens can be used for community use such as a rooftop cinema, an educational vegetable garden and public events.

The landscape design also allows the spaces to be utilized for Social Impact Design Initiatives with community and local school / youth groups. This can also provide a base for a number of local affiliate groups involved in a range of activities that promote biodiversity, environmental sustainability and community action.

The design allows conversations between the diverse uses of the site while retaining the base function as an aquatic centre. It provides platforms for active living and social inclusion. The proposal is not just a building but a series of open spaces that integrates the urban uses associated with the Green Square.