The vision for the Darwin Waterfront project was to transform the city’s redundant industrial port facility into a world class, mixed-use urban community, attracting local residents, business travellers and tourists alike. Creating a new harbour front precinct linking the water to the city and revitalising a derelict but historically important part of the city was the challenge for the new development. The development is designed as a series of staged precincts, with each providing a defined identity as they are developed.
The first precinct was fundamental, setting the precedent for all of the future stages. It implemented many of the critical principles and strategies that were proposed in the HASSELL master plan and set an important tone for the remaining development stages, aimed at building upon Darwin’s strong cultural heritage, incorporating the site’s historic headland landforms, re-establishing natural vegetation, and acknowledging indigenous associations and past uses. The public domain has been designed around a series of structured and identifiable public spaces as a regional destination for locals and tourists. In general, the public domain area is a space contained by residential buildings, the apartment hotel and the Darwin Convention and Exhibition Centre. The swimming beach and the interactive wave lagoon are the heart of Darwin Waterfront. It is the space people descend into from the Escarpment and the place people congregate for beachside activities and cultural events.
Around the water’s edge within the contained body of water, the public space is edged by a public boardwalk. The timber boardwalk and covered way weaves around the Darwin Convention Centre, restaurants, hotel/serviced apartments and residential dwellings and connects the Darwin Experience building, outdoor stage and restaurant building. It is also possible for pedestrians to walk along the top of the sea wall, between the contained marina and the open harbour, enhancing the connection between the water and the land. The water side connection to the harbour includes an active beach defined by patrolled paddling pools and a contained sand beach for year round swimming. The Northern Territory’s first outdoor wave lagoon provides for active water play and includes various water features. Grassed areas under the shade of native trees and man-made shade structures slope down to the water and provide additional shade at the sands edge.
The development allows public access to the water edge. This is a critically important aspect of the master plan and is fundamental to the understanding of Darwin as a coastal capital city. To be able to easily access the water from the city and to emphasise the interplay between buildings and water were critical principles of the design.
Landscape Architect: HASSELL
Project name: Darwin Waterfront Public Domain
Location: Stokes Hill Wharf Road, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
Completion date: November 2009
Budget: A$14 million (construction budget for the public domain component, exclusive of the wave lagoon and amenities building).
Scale: 25 hectares
Client: ABN Amro
Collaboration: Macmahon Contractors Pty Ltd, Rider Levitt Bucknall, Aurecon, Morris Goding, Thinc Projects, Geoff Ninnes Fong, Positive Solutions, Dot Dash
Photos: Brett Boardman
2010 WAN Awards – Short Listed – Urban Design
2010 AILA National Landscape Architecture Awards – Planning
2009 Australian Institute of Architects (NT) Awards – Award for Urban Design
2008 Urban Taskforce Awards – Development Excellence Award for Mixed Use Development (awarded to ABN Amro and Toga Group)