The East Darling Harbour site required a far-sighted urban project – one that resolved the western edge of the city centre.
The history of the site is marked by substantial and decisive interventions – streets created by cutting through the bedrock, connections made by clear-spanning bridges and overpasses, the manipulation of the edge by the protrusion of finger wharves and the subsequent formalization of a new edge by reclamation and infill. Each generation has reconfigured this place in a bold and forceful manner.
The contemporary intervention should add its own potent and compelling layer to this place. This cannot be achieved by the mere inflation of architecture, by a singular design vision, nor by the re-creation of lost historic elements – it requires a comprehensive understanding and respect for the evolving traditions of the city itself.
The proposal interprets the site as a series of urban projects that reunite the city with its harbour, including a collection of strategic urban linkages and the creation of a new finely calibrated and highly adaptable urban grain.
The meeting of the city with its harbour is celebrated in a new urban park that runs the 1km length of the foreshore, retaining the powerful horizontal scale of its former industrial uses, while interspersing a collection of elevated gardens, playing fields, water bodies, interpretive art projects and urban gathering spaces along its length. The proposal enshrines the western foreshore as an inalienable public place belonging to the citizens of Sydney.
The project acknowledges the dialectical relationship between architecture, landscape and the city. The project defines a clear framework, open to enrichment by the hands of many architects and landscape architects into the future.