Sydney: the connection to the water

22 11 2009

Sydney is a great example of an industrial city that has transformed its image and waterfront to fit its commercial expansion. The waterfront is a destination catered to pedestrians and bustling with activity.

What is a successful urban waterfront? Of course, there are many other issues but these 3 represent the main issues a waterfront development should address:

– A clear and concise pedestrian connection to the water

– A commitment to environmental sustainability, whether it be through creating habitat in the water or through the landscape.

– A statement about the importance of education the present and future generations about the importance of a sustainable waterfront

After meeting with Peter Nowland and Rafael Chemke from the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, they showed me some important spots along the harbour that I should visit. Here are a couple:

White Bay Seawall

Parts of an old vertical concrete seawall at White Bay had become unsafe and were due to be demolished and rebuilt.

Sydney Ports Corporation considered several different designs, most of which consisted of an inclined rubble-bank of some description. The design that was chosen to replace the old seawall is a stepped wall made of large rough-cut sandstone blocks.

The new stepped design means that the seawall has horizontal surfaces, approximately 0.5m wide and vertical surfaces, approximately 0.3m high, at various heights on the shore – a considerable change over the previous vertical concrete seawall. It also has similar composition to local natural rocky shores. The steps incorporate horizontal surfaces, which are a common feature of most rocky shores around Sydney, but are usually lacking on seawalls. This will increase the intertidal area as well as allowing for small rock-pools.

Picture 018 Glebe Point Park is a good example of redeveloping the foreshore with a sandstone seawall, access points to the water, and a pedestrian/biking trail along the edge. It is a mixture of seawall and natural shoreline and re-established mangroves.



Picture 169

Ballast Point was an old industrial refinery. As a contaminated industrial site, it has now been rebuilt as a public park with heritage fabric and historical story telling. They also renovated the existing sandstone seawall. This park portrays 20-25 years of landscape architecture evolution by providing a modern park using old materials.


Picture 165Picture 145 


Picture 102Peacock Point: In the 70s, the Sydney School of Architecture heavily influenced the landscape architecture language of the area. They believed that local bush should be reintroduced and the old industrial language of heavy timbers and bridge girders preserved. This park was the first to incorporate this style through bollards, picnic shelters, heavy timber stairs and benches.



I will be going to others on my way home to Seattle. For now, off to Brisbane….




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