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Dealing with potable water in Down Under

Felix Baumann

Sydney’s bold plan: The City’s potable water demand should be cut to 10% before 2030. They created a recreation area and they got awarded for it.

Aerial view of the Sydney Park, with its natural purification basins (Picture: Ethan Rohloff)

How to create a public park, which shows proud its past legacy as an industrial area and additionally works as a purification basin for rainwater? The Turf Design Studio & Environmental Partnership has done this task so well, they were awarded with the 2016 AAP American Architecture Prize in the category of landscape architecture. The Sydney Park is now part of Sydney’s Decentralised Water Masterplan, which is specifically focused on reducing the City’s potable water demand by 10% before 2030.

From waste disposal to popular parkland

In the past two decades, the area has transformed from its industrial and landfill utilisation, into a popular recreation area for the residents of the growing communities of Sydney’s south east. With its 44 hectares, the Sydney Park is the third largest public park in the inner-city of Sydney. In the nineties, the site was famous for its subcultural music activities, which culminates into big rock festivals during the noughties. The area is still a cultural place today, but in a more quiet and relaxing way. Mixing planting and greenspaces with historic remains from smokestacks and factories, the Sydney Park is combining urban and natural environments.

Park with a purpose

When the urban planners searched for places to implement the Decentralised Water Masterplan, they found an ideal place at this site. Originally a swamp, you can find depressions, where storm water flows automatically. The Turf Design Studio & Environmental Partnership developed a water management system to harvesting urban waste water and improving water quality. Also, they designed a few cascades to overcome the difference in altitude and creating natural rapids. Today, the newly created wetlands not only capture and cleans the measure of 340 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth per annum, but shows the visitor a part of the natural circulation of water. With its thriving fauna and flora, the Sydney Park is educating the community about the interdependent of urban and natural environments.