The Urban Oasis brief calls for a place for exercise, relaxation and entertainment operating from 5am until midnight - bringing the restorative qualities of water to a dense urban area with a mix of swimming, floating, eating, drinking and relaxation.
Responding to the nature of the site, the project is comprised of two buildings, a water complex and a public mixed-use building, with a common open space in between. This common space resembles a canyon between the two buildings, providing a publicly accessible landscaped corridor that is activated on both sides.
1. Addressing the noise and amenity impact of the major roads that bound the site (Wattle and Fig Street), the proposal limits access directly from the western edge creating safe and controlled access.
2. To improve the key pedestrian access opportunities, a raised extension off Jones Street creates direct access to the site for the Pyrmont community and visitors from the city to the east.
3. Access is directed towards a central landscaped centre – creating a precession from the noisy road towards an intimate centre of access and congregation.
The primary building is an aquatic centre positioned along the western edge along Wattle Street. The roof is a hyper-parabolic undulating form, hovering above the pool, surging from edge to edge. The Aquatic Centre is a sculptural form, viewable from all sides, offering different characteristics and geometries when viewed from different perspectives.
The Aquatic Centre is designed to act as a high-performance training centre and as well as a community swim centre. A 50-metre lap pool is arranged along the street, adjacent to a grandstand, facing and engaging with the public realm beyond. The facility also includes indoor warm-up pools, spas and a smaller outdoor pool.
The building's entrance is arranged towards the back to allow the swimming pool’s main hall to emerge and present its image towards Wattle street. The cloakrooms and technical premises are contained behind this entrance adjoining the main hall. Access is also provided upstairs to a gym, café and flexible space for other activities, with viewing platforms to the pools below.
Site Floor Plan: aquatic centre and civic building (against a sandstone rockwall)
Timber Civic Building
Positioned along the rock face, the rock-wall building allows direct access onto the site, creating a raised extension of the public realm off Jones Street allowing views over the aquatic centre and beyond the site, creating a panorama across to the bridges and Glebe Bay.
The building provides a range of recreational facilities, public and commercial activities including public lecture theatres, a fitness centre, amenities, offices and flexible space for public galleries or a function centre. The interior levels of the buildings with voids through their centres and balconies on the peripheries maintain an open atmosphere and create visual connections through and around the building.
The building additionally provides access to the public landscape below. The open ground floor space of the proposed design functions as an extension to the public realm, offering a range of commercial activities – a café and a restaurant positioned along a public corridor. Weaving through the rockface and the building is an external public pool that tunnels through the sandstone and relates to the position of the café and restaurant to create a unique experience between swimmers and diners.
The structure is framed with mass timber on the exterior, enabling deep floor heights with glazed walls and daylit circulation areas.
The public corridor between the buildings is generated as a valley river with a shadowed arcade.
The shallow streams of a linearly entwining footbath pool create potential play areas.
This access corridor, organised by planting and urban pools responding to the relationship between building frontages, provides an outdoor public space that is carefully designed to provide a safe and pedestrian-friendly environment, for use by visitors or residents.
The scheme aims to generate an inclusive urban water park with a variety of public gathering spaces. All of the recreational facilities are available to the public and express an openness that encourages a wide variety of social uses, for local residents and tourists alike.