HASSELL | Millennium Parklands
Olympic legacy: Our challenge was to design a 450 hectare park on a former industrial site. The park – originally named Millennium Parklands and now known as Sydney Olympic Park – was to provide the setting for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and leave a valuable legacy for future generations telling them something of the prevailing values of a seminal period in Australian history.
The 2000 Sydney Olympic Games was committed to environmental sustainability. This drove all aspects of the Games’ planning and execution as well as the design of Millennium Parklands.
An adaptable approach: The scale, complexity, time constraints and scrutiny of the planning and design of Olympic Games venues is greater than that of other major development projects. In 2009, working with the Sydney Olympic Park Authority, we commissioned research to determine if the concept plan for the Millennium Parklands had achieved the Government’s objective and the project team’s aspirations.
Many of the project’s innovations have now become normal practice, such as the preparation of the park’s activity based programs in tandem with its physical design. Also, by leaving many spaces unplanned, opportunity has been provided for future generations to explore their ambitions on the site.
New landscape typology: The Millennium Parklands provided an opportunity to break free from the ‘picturesque’ European traditions that had dominated Australian urban parklands planning.
To ensure the park would remain both responsive and resilient, the design was based on three simple unifying themes: lowlands, walls and rooms, and elevated landforms.
Restoring the ecological processes of Homebush Bay’s lowlands into functioning waterways and wetlands reflected a commitment to conservation.
A park-wide system of woodlands and forests (walls) was used to define spaces and settings (rooms) and to create connections between the settings and facilities within the park. The walls also played a key role in providing habitat diversity and green corridors to connect the ecosystems of Homebush Bay.
Elevated landforms, created by the clean fill generated from the construction of sports facilities, provided places from which visitors could orientate, identify and view the complexity of the lowlands.
The conservation, reinstatement and interpretation of the site’s cultural and natural heritage was a critical part of the concept. Instead of concealing evidence of site reclamation and decontamination, these activities were celebrated physically and acknowledged through education programs to provide an example for future projects involving rehabilitated land.
Responsive design: At every stage of the project the theme of sustainability was reinforced through responsive design. Techniques were chosen – or invented – to conserve water, soils, habitats and items of cultural value. Attention was given to the selection of materials, with an emphasis on recycled material and planting of indigenous species. Programs were developed to raise users’ awareness of the conservation values and philosophies of the site. Infrastructure elements such as roads and utility services were designed to be subservient to the park landscape and the park themes carry into the urban core along vegetated corridors.
Environmental technologies: Millennium Parklands was an opportunity to experiment with new ideas, raise the benchmarks of accepted environmental practices and landscape principles, and to use existing and emerging environmental technologies on a grand scale.
Solar energy generation and storm water collection and recycling were just two relatively new techniques incorporated into the design. Many more untried technologies such as the use of facsimile soils were pioneered on this project.
Wetlands and associated habitats were created on a vast scale. World best practice rehabilitation of contaminated landscapes was established for application on similar projects.Landscape Architecture: HASSELL, Peter Walker & Partners, Bruce Mackenzie Design
Benchmark – Park Management: Jeff Floyd
Benchmark – Conservation: Old Cassowary Consulting
Engineering: Kinhill Engineering
EMP and Environment: Fathom Consulting
Recreation: HM Leisure Planning
Cost Planning: Northcroft QS Partnership
Lighting, Solar and Communications: Barry Webb & Associates
Environmental Education and Interpretation: Natural & Cultural Heritage
Landfill: RH Amaral & Associates
Irrigation: Fluid Flow
Soils: Sydney Environment and Soil Laboratory
Illustrators: Christopher Grubbs, Barry Mitchell Client: Olympic Coordination Authority
Discipline: Landscape Architecture
Scale: 450 ha
Completion Year: 1999
2001 The Architecture Show Magazine and The Francis Greenway Society Green Building Awards – Gold Medal
2000 Building Design Professions Urban Design Awards – Urban Design in Australia Award
2000 AILA National Awards – Project Award in Landscape Architecture – Master Planning
2000 AILA National Awards – Project Award in Landscape Architecture – Design Rehabilitation and Conservation
1999 AILA (NSW and ACT) Awards – Planning Merit Award – Master Planning