Landscape Architect: HASSELL
Project name: The Coal Loader
Location: Waverton Peninsula, North Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Completion date: July 2011
Budget: A$4.9 million
Scale: 15,000 sqm
Client: North Sydney Council
Collaboration: ARUP, Northrop, Wosley Parsons, Northcroft, Prof. Max Irvine, Craig Burton, PSN
Photographer: Simon Wood
The site has high natural and cultural heritage significance – formerly operating as a bunkering and distribution point for coal since the early 1900s and for bulk oil storage since the 1950s – the sites were decommissioned in the early 1990s.
The project’s challenge was to preserve the site’s timeless quality, to resist the temptation to embellish the structure with artifice, and to ensure that the place became a viable recreation resource for the local community.
The design of the site required an artistic approach with an emphasis on ideas of ‘revelation’ more than those of ‘creation’, where minimal intervention and meaningful spatial relationships were established to evoke interpretations of site and place.
Stringent design principles and methodologies were adopted, along with the site specific opportunities and constraints, to ensure that the sites development was conducted with due consideration of the sites significant sensitive cultural heritage, and to demonstrate best practice in environmental, cultural and social sustainability.
The whole site has been adaptively reused to provide settings for an array of new activities. It is a host for festivals and functions, the offices have been upgraded, a new café established, and the caretaker’s cottage has been developed as a local sustainability learning centre.
In particular, the new Sustainability Learning Centre is an initiative of North Sydney Council that will offer solutions for sustainable living by direct example and through Council run environmental programs. The expression of sustainable practices was not limited to the building and its environs and included significant initiatives site-wide, such as water harvesting, treatment and re-use, waste water treatment, energy capture and storage, community gardening and the use of recycled materials.
The Coal Loader provides a generous public facility and develops a best practice outcome through a contemporary design language, which respects the rugged natural and industrial beauty of the site.