Sydney, Melbourne recognised for design excellence

Paddington Reservoir Gardens
City of Sydney’s Paddington Reservoir Gardens was awarded for excellence in urban design. Image: City of Sydney/Fiora Sacco.

By Angela Dorizas

A rehabilitated public park in inner city Sydney and a research project on future growth in Melbourne are the recipients of this year’s prestigious Australian Award for Urban Design.

The City of Sydney was awarded for its restoration of the historic Paddington Reservoir Gardens, which was described by award judges as a unique and engaging project.

The Paddington reservoir, constructed from 1866 to 1878, was covered and raised during the 1930s to create a public park.

Over the past two years, the City coordinated a restoration project to transform the hidden park into a functional community space.

The jury said the Gardens, which officially opened in March 2009, had “captured the imagination of all those fortunate enough to pass or live nearby”.

“Instead of capping the site and building a new park above, as originally expected, the design team incorporated many of the reinforced ruins of the heritage listed structure and created sunken and elevated gardens using a carefully selected and limited range of contemporary materials with exceptional detailing,” the jury said.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said she was “very proud” of the restoration project which provided the inner city community with “vital new open space and a new cultural facility”.

The City’s Sustainable Sydney 2030 plan was also commended for its “comprehensive” and “well-structured” urban design framework.

“The Vision is exciting and innovative, and incorporated widespread engagement with the community,” the jury said.

“It successfully resolved complex, strategic planning issues into detailed and well illustrated urban design solutions.”

The award-winning Transforming Australian Cities research project, commissioned by the Victorian Government and undertaken by the City of Melbourne, was recognised as a growth model for the future form of cities.

The project’s research team used spatial information systems to study strategic residential and employment intensification along public transport corridors. 

According to the jury, the “well researched” project provided “high quality evidence and graphic tools that will help promote this urban form model to all levels of government, to developers and the wider community”.

“The study helps visualise…higher density corridors using high quality artist impressions and shows that the required population growth in our cities can be achieved without changing the essential form and character of our existing attractive neighbourhoods.”

Hosted by the Planning Institute of Australia, the Australian Award for Urban Design was created by Prime Minister Paul Keating’s Urban Design Task Force in 1996 to highlight excellence in urban design.

This year’s Award was presented by Federal Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett, at a function in Canberra.

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