Sydney's beaches and rock pools have inspired the winning design for the city's new Gunyama Park and Green Square Aquatic Centre.

The City invited architects and landscape architects to enter a design competition for the recreational project, which will be built within the city’s new $8 billion Green Square development – a 278-hectare precinct which stands as one of the fastest growing neighbourhoods in the city.

The organic design, by Andrew Burges Architects with Grimshaw and T.C.L., beat out 144 local and international entries in the two-stage competition.

“The judges thought this was a very special project. It’s a very beautiful design, a very strong design, it’s a very appropriate design,” said competition registrar Stephen Varady.

The winning team has challenged the standard, box-shaped vision associated with an aquatic centre to create a fluid design where swimming areas merge with recreational spaces and nature.

“It’s not just a rigid rectangular box in which you swim with lines on the ground but you can do that…there are areas where the sides just wash in and it’s very naturalistic almost an urban beach,” said juror Greg Homan.

Swimming facilities include a 50-metre heated outdoor pool, a 25-metre program pool for swimming lessons, an indoor leisure pool and a hydrotherapy pool. Indoor and outdoor play areas, a multipurpose sports play field, gym and outdoor playground and boardwalk will be surrounded by plants and landscaping inspired by the area’ s indigenous heritage. A large industrial roof will offer shade over the dry fitness areas.

“Our Gunyama Park proposal has been developed by analysing the historical geography of the site and imagining the hedonistic potential of the Pool program,”  Andrew Burges Architects detailed in its proposal.

The centre will be the largest built since the Olympics and the project will be the heart of the urban development, which will see up to 55,000 people living in vertical villages and include jobs for 22,000 people according to Lord Mayor Clover Moore.


The pool blends seamlessly into the landscape

The project blurred architectural boundaries, combining nature and the built environment.

Andrew Burns (with NBRS & Turf) designed a rounded form which is enveloped by a fence to contain all the areas of the project and encourage collaboration.

“A humble picket fence is transformed into a dynamic building form,” Andrew Burns’ proposal reads. “This is a strategy of economy; the fence is a low cost element and necessary to contain the sports field, pool and children’s play area.”

The project demonstrates that a “park” alone will not deliver the needed amenities and needs to be worked into the public realm.

With Green Square’s new park and aquatic centre spanning the size of three football fields and with such varied recreational amenities, there looks to be plenty of space for residents and visitors to engage, play or rest. Andrew Burges’ full proposal is available here.