Jacaranda Square, “The Everyday Stadium” is the first new public space in Sydney Olympic Park to sit within the framework of the Sydney Olympic Park 2030 Master Plan. The master plan sets a new urban framework that is intended to refocus the Olympic legacy of event and spectacle into a finely grained, sustainable town centre.
The Jacaranda Square project began in 2004, as an invited design competition, which was won by a group of like-minded professionals ASPECT Studios, McGregor Westlake Architecture, and Deuce Design representing the fields of landscape architecture, architecture and graphic design respectively.
The winning concept, titled “The Everyday Stadium”, was both an ironic nod to the 2,000 Olympics legacy and a precise description of the design concept. The morphology of a typical stadium gave the scheme it’s enduring diagram, ie. An orthogonal edge of seats and walls (the stands), framing a large informal open space (the field), and protected by long perimeters of shade – one built and the other trees (the canopies).
In contrast to the stadium buildings and left over spaces of Olympic Park, Jacaranda Square is a mid scaled rectangular space of 50 x 80metres, defined by the orthogonal street grid that is setout around the finest Olympic building, the train station (designed by Hassell). The Square is situated on the station axis and is being framed on it’s long sides by new commercial buildings which define it as the pivotal public space of the new town centre.
After winning the competition, the design team was engaged to develop the construction documentation. The design concept of “The Everyday Stadium” with it’s 3 elements of edge, centre and canopy, was the guiding framework throughout.
The edge is defined by a low masonry wall set out orthogonally to the surrounding street grid giving the space a strong rectangular form. From the street the wall appears as a rich and dramatic frame, laid out in a finely grained ‘brixel pattern’ of green glazed and face bricks that define the edges and entries to the park. The project likes to think it has introduced a new word to the English lexicon ‘Brixel’ meaning a pixellated pattern made up of bricks.
On the inside of the wall are concrete seats made up of a series of modular precast-concrete lounge suite sections, which provide a resting place for “every-body”. The seats are made up of 2 moulds and are designed to telescope and step along the 155 lineal metres of perimeter wall. They have a playful and personable scale and make an active and occupied edge to the inside lining of the square. The concrete seat sections create small nooks and larger lengths of seating that provide an articulated elevation to and from to the central space of the square.
The central open space is well defined by the finely calibrated and constructed edge and sits as free form and dynamic element within it. In part a response to the iconic vault of the station building, a radial geometry was chosen to set out all the major elements within the orthogonal geometry of the walls. The grass ovoid centre, the curved path around it, the radial brick pattern which makes up the path, the inside sweep of the canopy above and the circular cafe that holds up the cantilever of the café, are all unified by the curving geometry. In section the field of grass rises as a slight mound giving the central space greater prominence and creates outlooks over the square from it. The mound and the radial geometry of the central space give a broad scale and generous sweep to the space.
The canopy, 5 metres high and 50 metres long, with it’s sweeping interior curve, acts as a unifying element to the whole space. Set out at the height of the springing point of the station vault, the horizontality of the canopy, acts as a foil to the grander scale of the station building.
The shade canopy, like a stadium structure was designed with a minimum of columns therefore necessitating large cantilevers. It’s soffit of polychrome green mesh modules echoes the modularity of the “brixellated” walls below and compliments the grove of native trees, which frame the north side of the park. Under the shade canopy, adjacent to the main entry and circulation path, the small circular plan of the café, with it’s red soffit, offers a condensed warm spot to the square.
Brick was used extensively in the project, for it’s fine grained tactile quality and for it’s cultural, place making associations to the adjacent Homebush Brickpit. As well as the polychrome glazed bricks, the majority of the interior hardscape is made up of recycled bricks. Recycled bricks were sourced from a neighbouring suburb – many of which would have originated from the adjacent brick pit.
ESD + Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD)
Several sustainable initiatives are embedded in the design; the minimising of runoff with the large area of grass and the laying of the brick paving on a porous sand cement bed, the use recycled water for irrigation, the use of large areas of recycled bricks, the site retention of low level contaminated soil within the sculpted landscape mound and minimal use of imported top soil by ameliorating the existing site soil. The site compost is a blend of ‘post consumer waste’ rather than using a peat or other non-renewable materials. The new trees are all Eucalyptus, which require low levels of irrigation.
The project was important for the collaborative design approach, which started as a conversation toward a concept and which has ended as a richly calibrated spatial whole.
+ Project credits / data
Project: Jacaranda Square, “The Everyday Stadium”
Location: Sydney Olympic Park, Australia
Competition (year): 2004
Cost: 2.2 million AUS Dollars
Area Size: 4000 square metres
Typology: Landscape design
Client: Sydney Olympic Park Authority
Landscape Architects / Lead Consultants: ASPECT Studios Pty Ltd
Architects: McGregor Westlake Architecture
Graphic Design: Deuce Design
Builders: Kane Constructions
Masonry Contractors: Conrina Constructions Pty Ltd
Concrete Suppliers: Able Metromix
Brick Manufacturer: Euroa, Bowral Bricks
Photographers: Simon Wood, Kyal Sheehan