As our cities grow larger, denser and more complex there is an increased demand for quality public space. Designers must work hard to reinvigorate existing places, create new networks, stimulate social activation through place making initiatives and achieve excellence in sustainable design. A successful outcome is measured as much on the activation of the public realm as the architecture which surrounds it.
This paper presents Darling Quarter as a case study for urban renewal that highlights the importance of place making and community activation in city fringe developments.
Darling Quarter is a major 1.5hectare place making project that has transformed the public domain of Darling Harbour, one of Australia’s most visited destinations. The new A$500million precinct integrates two large (total 57,000m2 NLA) campus-styled 6 Star Green Star (world leadership) commercial buildings within a public domain that comprises new city pedestrian connections a retail terrace, generous grassed community areas, a 300 seat children’s theatre and an innovative playground as its centre piece. The spectacular world-class 4,000sqm playground is one of the largest illuminated playgrounds in the country and a regional attractor to the city. The playground is one of Australia’s largest play areas that integrates interactive water play in an urban landscaped environment.
The precinct is activated by over 6,500 workers in the new commercial buildings and the millions of families and tourists, who come to the playground, children’s theatre, picnic on the community green or dine at the bustling retail terrace. The development has tailored the community offerings to ensure the precinct is well activated around the clock.
This project prompted a shift in thinking about the importance of public domain in the re-vitalisation of the western edge of the Sydney CBD. Darling Quarter has set a new benchmark for both Sydney’s public domain and commercial architecture. The project exemplifies design excellence, leading sustainable design initiatives to create an inclusive, free, public space activated by the community day and night.
Rod McCoy (NSW)
Executive Project Manager, Lend Lease
5th Healthy Cities: Making Cities Liveable Conference 2012
The Mercure Hotel and Conference Centre, Geelong, Victoria – 6th to the 8th of June – 2012