The Millstream Lookout is located at the western end of the foreshore beach park at Port Botany.
The concept makes use of an engineering rock groyne by manipulating the structure to become part of the landscape composition. The edges are contoured to soften the form and to provide a more integrated edge to the beach whilst the surface is paved and decked to facilitate public access. This gesture transforms this utilitarian structure into a ‘landscape’ element that provides a lookout, provides opportunity to view the water from a different perspective, and provides a termination to the foreshore pedestrian and cycle path.
The lookout experience begins at the end of the pathway with a ramp that climbs at an accessible gradient to the lookout area. The lookout edges lean toward a view corridor out to the ocean but at the same time providing a 270 degree vantage point of Botany Bay. Interpretive signage is integrated into the balustrade structure to coincide with the view directly in front of the viewer. Seating is also provided to allow walkers and cyclists to stop and rest.
The design is inspired by the natural ‘sun trap’ edges that exist along many of Sydney’s beaches, landscape escarpments and the bow form of ships that traverse the waters of Port Botany.
The construction features durable natural finishes such as recycled hardwoods, ‘Corten’ steel and textured concrete so that the structure will age gracefully whilst also requiring a lower level of maintenance.
In Port Botany harbour an engineered rock groyne stretches from the end of a beach across the water towards Sydney Airport’s north – south runway. The tip of this groyne is the site of the Port Botany Lookout. Previously wasteland, the area now has a park and beach connected by a new pedestrian and cycle path. The lookout is the termination point for this foreshore experience.
First seen on approach from the pedestrian path the lookout’s silhouette may evoke a wrecked ship’s bow, enticing one to a destination for viewing. A ramped pathway leads to a lookout platform. The handrail edges lean in a 270 degree arc towards Port Botany, pointing to the spectacle of planes flying low across the water. A seat is provided to allow walkers and cyclists to stop, pause, observe or rest. The jutting form is softened with a wing-like tapering profile, integrating the lookout with the unusual beach and airport landscape composition.
Although ameliorated, the lookout’s context is still gritty and industrial, pervaded by shipping cranes, traversing tankers, and an air continuously punctuated by soaring planes. Sympathetically, the lookout was designed for pre-fabrication in a neighbouring factory whereby the architectural CAD 3D model was transformed directly into steel plates; a clinical conception from idea to construction. It was a process that transformed a single thickness of sheet steel into a robust and complex three dimensional shape.
From immaculate factory assembly the structure was craned into position and left exposed to the elements. An immediate defensive reaction ensued in which the lookout’s outer layers of steel molecules sacrificially rusted to protect the integrity of the overall structure. The structure’s gesture of preservation saw it blossom from a raw matt finish into a rich orange texture, perhaps indicating a healthy synergy between the lookout and its industrial setting.
Location: Botany Bay, NSW, Australia
Architect: Choi Ropiha Fighera
Collaborators: EDAW, Maunsell, Northrop
Park Design: EDAW
Client: Sydney Ports Authority
Floor Area: 85 sqm
Project year: 2009
Photographer: Choi Ropiha Fighera