Integrating water infrastructure with an urban parkland
Sydney Park has been redesigned to incorporate landscape elements, waterbodies, and water features that make it a large-scale stormwater treatment system, capturing and treating run-off from the surrounding suburb.
The park now captures and cleans 850 million litres of stormwater a year, making this water available for re-use. At the same time, the reinvigorated park provides much-needed open space for relaxation and recreation in this high-density inner city neighbourhood.
The stormwater treatment system incorporates the attributes and functions of natural ecosystems, integrating state-of-the-art science and environmental design with landscape design and public art to create essential civic infrastructure.
Connectivity: The stormwater infrastructure is a series of connected treatment systems that can also be navigated by park visitors.
Image: Sara Reilly
Using the landscape to capture and treat water
The project is an integral component of City of Sydney’s Sustainable Sydney 2030, which aims to replace 30 per cent of 2030 potable water demand across the local government area.
The project’s success is due to its synthesis of the pragmatic and poetic aspects of the water treatment system, and its inventive integration with the park. Instead of constructing traditional greywater treatment infrastructure, the system was reconceived as a series of connected wetlands, cascades, spillways, and sculptural elements.
Integration: A series of tiered terraces aerate the stormwater.
Image: Turf Design Studio and Environmental Partnership
Stormwater is fed into the naturalised system from a main drainage pipe which captures run-off from the adjacent suburb of Newtown. Footbridges, informal paths, and stepping stones are placed around the waterbodies, allowing people to explore and discover the various water treatment processes, now part of the park’s landscape setting.
Connectivity: Raised stepping stones encourage people to explore the park’s water treatment systems.
Image: Adam Hunter
Collaborating across disciplines
The project was funded by the City of Sydney and built in partnership with the Australian Government through the National Urban Water and Desalination Plan. The design team incorporated multidisciplinary specialists led by landscape architects Turf Design Studio and Environmental Partnership. The team’s expertise included hydrology, soils, ecology, engineering, and public art, as well as landscape design. Collaboration was central to the design process.