HASSELL: Prior to European development, the Victoria Park site was part of a large wetland and lagoon ecological system known as the Botany Swamp. The site was developed firstly as a racecourse in the 1800s, and then for heavy industry. The large, flat land and seemingly limitless supply of good quality ground water attracted development, but these uses were unsustainable and the site’s ecosystems gradually deteriorated. Victoria Park is now a 24 hectare mixed-use development, incorporating medium and high-density housing, commercial and retail facilities and public domain for a population of 5,000.
The HASSELL design concept for Victoria Park embodied four key principles that relate to its place: a site-wide environmental strategy, interpretation of the natural wetland systems, site connectivity, and community development. A variety of exceptional public settings were created for the enjoyment of the community. Plazas, playgrounds and public artworks are combined with the provision of large open spaces and amphitheaters that meet the need to detain large quantities of storm water onsite. The public spaces have a richness in spatial form and materials, unified by the common thread of indigenous planting of wetland species, and a landform that is moulded to accommodate the specific water retention requirements.
The plant selection and habitat creation support the local ecosystem, promoting biodiversity and the artworks express and celebrate the improved water quality achievements. A bio-retention swale infiltration system regulates the quality of first flush water from the site’s public roads. The filtered water is intercepted, recycled and visibly exposed at the site’s notable water features.
The value of natural systems in sustaining the land has often been the hallmark of rural development, but deemed unworkable in urban situations. Victoria Park redefines the role of natural systems and exposes the shortcomings in ideas of landscape as ornament. The project exceeded expectations by virtue of its innovative water management system and its integration into the high-quality living environment. Consequently, the project has become a benchmark for water sensitive urban design in Australia. Victoria Park not only provides a valuable recreation resource for the community, it also sets about restoring and reconstructing the ecosystems that once prevailed.
Landscape Architecture: HASSELL
Project name: Victoria Park Public Domain
Location: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Completion date: 2002
Area: 24 ha
Collaboration: Government Architects Office of NSW, Turpin Crawford Studio (Artists)
Image credits: Photography by Max Creasy / Patrick Bingham-Hall
Awards: The project has won over 20 industry, community and professional awards and is used as a case study example for sustainable and well designed communities, including:
_2004 Australian Award for Urban Design – Category Award – Public Domain
_2004 AILA National Awards – Commendation – Environment in Landscape Architecture
_2004 AILA National Awards – Merit Award – Design in Landscape Architecture
_2002 SIA National Award for Excellence in Water Sensitive Urban Design