Walla Mulla and Bourke Street parks

Nov 26, 2013
  • Article by chriselliottarchitects
  • Photography by Richard Glover
  • Designer
  • Architect Chris Elliott Architects, Terragram

The small park was crowded with anaemic looking trees; it was dirty, gloomy and unattractive; and a railway viaduct running beside the park provided shelter for Sydney’s homeless community.

The project presented Chris Elliott Architects (CEA) and Terragram with the dilemma of meeting both the demands of the residents and the needs of the local homeless community. Robust structures, ease of maintenance and good visual surveillance were important requirements, as were built structures that were easy to recycle in case the park was to be redeveloped in the future.

Retaining walls and many of the trees were eliminated to enable better flow through the park, and facilitating easier cleaning by council trucks. Green walls and roof created a lighter, brighter and more colourful park. Comfortable seating allows friendly gatherings. Drains, pits and other places where drugs could easily be concealed were eliminated.

Connecting seamlessly, the amenities structure is incorporated into the large steel trellises that line the two ‘urban walls’ of the park. Vines extend beyond the mesh roof to form a ‘green waterfall’. Durable materials were used throughout – galvanised steel, tiled concrete blockwork, polished concrete floors and recycled brick paving. The stainless steel doors are laser cut to a pattern that was abstracted from the plan of the park.

The parks have won two Sydney Design Awards (Landscape Design; and Design Team – Small) and BPN Sustainability Awards (Landscape: winner; Public buildings and urban design: Highly commended), and were long-listed in the WAN Landscape Award 2013.

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