The Darling Harbour transformation

Artist impression of the Boulevard, Credit: Infrastructure NSW

The $3.4 billion redevelopment of Sydney’s Darling Harbour has taken another step towards completion with the reopening of the much-loved Tumbalong Park.

The revitalised park, which has been closed since May 2015 and reopened just in time for the summer holidays, has more green, open space thanks to reconfigured pathways, new turf and landscaping.

Artist impression of Tumbalong Park. Image courtesy of  Infrastructure NSW

Artist impression of Tumbalong Park. Image courtesy of  Infrastructure NSW

Tumbalong Park  is just a small part of Darling Harbour’s transformation which includes the building of a new convention, exhibition and entertainment precinct – International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney). A 600 room luxury hotel will accompany the new convention centre.

This major urban renewal also includes the development of a new city neighbourhood on the south side which will become home to high-tech businesses, apartments, student housing and cafés and restaurants.

ICC Sydney opens in December 2016 while the first buildings on the south side are due to be completed in late 2016.

The project is being delivered by the NSW Government in partnership with the Darling Harbour Live consortium and Lend Lease. The project is drawing on the talents of leading international design consultants and architects including Populous, HASSELL, OMA and Denton Corker Marshall, which are all contributing to the 20-hectare masterplan.

Richard Breslin, Senior Principal, Populous, told DHub the project represents the first piece of significant social infrastructure in Sydney since the 2000 Olympic Games.

“More than 26 million people either visit or pass through Darling Harbour every year so this is a fantastic opportunity to be involved in the redevelopment of one of Australia’s most visited precincts.”

Populous have designed over 40 convention centres around the world including in the US, Qatar and India but Mr Breslin said it was a very special opportunity to be part of the design consortium for ICC Sydney.

Artist impression of the Boulevard. Image courtesy of  Infrastructure NSW

Artist impression of the Boulevard. Image courtesy of Infrastructure NSW

“When we started off developing our architectural ideas and concepts, there were two common goals.  We firstly wanted to design the best convention and exhibition centre in the world, to redefine the experience, showcasing the natural and built beauty of Sydney.  Secondly, we strove to simply make the precinct, and this part of Sydney, a better place for people to live in,” he said.

According to Mr Breslin, engagement is at the heart of the design for ICC Sydney – engagement with both the surrounding built and natural environments and engagement with Sydney’s residents and visitors.

“An important consideration for us was to create more public open space than was there before, a better space with greater amenity for everyone.  These buildings aren’t normally the greatest of neighbours – they are big, often blacked out boxes that rarely engage or respond with the outside environment.  That’s not what Sydney is – it is about being open, welcoming, and enjoying what makes this a truly global and unique city.”

Some of the practice’s previous work includes the Eden Park stadium in Auckland, the ANZ Stadium in Sydney and the 02 Arena in London.

Artist impression of Tumbalong Park and the Boulevard. Image courtesy of  Infrastructure NSW

Artist impression of Tumbalong Park and the Boulevard. Image courtesy of Infrastructure NSW

There will also be significant upgrades and improvements to the public space and parklands around the ICC Sydney, including Tumbalong Park.

The Boulevard, a 20 metre-wide spine, will run through the precinct, drawing people through from Central Station to the harbour.  There will be new east-west public access to existing light rail stops and dedicated cycle routes to connect with Pyrmont, Ultimo, Haymarket and the CBD.

Artists impression of ICC Sydney, as viewed from Cockle Bay. Image courtesy of  Infrastructure NSW

Artists impression of ICC Sydney, as viewed from Cockle Bay. Image courtesy of Infrastructure NSW

Angus Bruce, HASSELL Principal and international head of landscape architecture, said the project will unlock the potential of one of Australia’s most visited public places and prime inner city locations.

“Our design taps into the rich history and special attributes of the area.  Dynamic open public spaces and parklands featuring water features and public art, together with new pedestrian and light rail connections including a clear north-west Boulevard will provide an authentic, dynamic, inclusive and community experience for visitors and locals alike.”

HASSELL’s previous projects include the Global Change Institute and the Advanced Engineering Institute at the University of Queensland and the Alibaba Headquarters in China.

It is estimated that the redevelopment of Darling Harbour will bring $5 billion in economic benefit for Sydney over 25 years by providing ongoing employment across the precinct and attracting businesses and tourists alike to work, rest and play.

Ariel view of Darling Harbour Live. Image courtesy of  Infrastructure NSW

Ariel view of Darling Harbour Live. Image courtesy of Infrastructure NSW

Speaking just before the reopening of Tumbalong Park, Andrew Constance, NSW Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, said the redevelopment of Darling Harbour would bring many benefits to Sydney, its residents and visitors.

“This major infrastructure project is re-energising Sydney in so many ways, and will provide a massive boost to the liveability of our city and to our economy now and into the future,” Mr Constance said.

There is still more to come for Tumbalong Park.  Once ICC Sydney is complete next year, an additional hectare of open space will be provided for the park, including new water features for children’s play and an outdoor gym.