ASPECT Studios has just completed a transformation of the public domain of Darling Harbour. This public domain project, commissioned by SHFA and Lend Lease now known as Darling Quarter, is a major place-making project for Sydney with a world class children’s playground as its centre piece. At over 4000m2 it is the largest in the Sydney CBD and with its innovative water play facilities will be a regional attraction.
Darling Harbour is one of Australia’s most visited tourist destinations. Darling Quarter builds a strong link to the city and reinforces the movement between the Entertainment Centre to Cockle Bay and beyond. The new project revitalises Darling Harbour by upgrading ground plane materials, lighting, furniture and planting, and setting a new benchmark for Darling Harbour with an emphasis on premium quality and highly sustainable initiatives. It provides a family focused core both for city dwellers, particularly those in neighbouring Pyrmont and Chinatown, and for tourists and visitors alike. It boasts an extensively redesigned playground, generous grassed community areas, a children’s theatre, a new café, restaurants and bars.
The Play Space
The play space component of the playground is the most unique element of the project. It creates an adventurous, innovative and highly interactive play experience suitable to the Australian climate. Members of the design team travelled widely to benchmark and research the best examples of play spaces and public domain around the world. The major water play elements were sourced from Germany, many of which have never been used before in Australia. The bespoke design of the water play environment includes an array of interactive water elements including ‘sluice gates’, ‘hand pumps’ and an ‘archimedes screw’ which draws water up and channels it back into a myriad of sculptural concrete streams. The stainless steel elements promote interaction and learning and reference the industrial history of Darling Harbour as a working site. In addition to the water play, there is a ‘dry’ playground space that features sand pits, a flying fox, giant climbing frames and huge family slides built for groups to use together. Facilities also include a purpose built café, toilets and shade canopies.
There is a strong focus on sustainability and place-making. Rainwater is harvested in a 300,000 litre tank and distributed throughout the public domain for irrigation and water features. Low energy lighting creates a vibrant night time precinct which has been designed as an inclusive, free, public space activated by the community day and night, seven days a week.
+ Project credits / data
Project: Darling Quarter
Location: Sydney, Australia
Design: ASPECT Studios
Client: Lend Lease
Photographers: Florian Groehn
Budget: AUS$12 million
Team: ASPECT Studios in collaboration with FMJT architects
Scope: Concept design, master plan
Area size: 28203 m2
Completion date: August 2011
+ All images courtesy of ASPECT Studios | Photo by Florian Groehn