Prince Alfred Park + Pool Upgrade by Sue Barnsley Design (in association with Neeson Murcutt Architects) has been awarded the top Landscape Design gong at the 2014 Sustainability Awards.

Located at the edge of central Sydney, the project was crowned over five other contestants, including the highly commended Birrarung Marr Stormwater Harvesting & Landscape Integration Project. It was favoured because of its combination of facilities and initiatives, which have allowed it to be more than just a recreational park for the community – a common theme for many notable landscape projects.

“The upgrade of Prince Alfred Park proves that truly good design engages nature and resonates with people. The breadth of facilities provided here has a lot to do with its success, but it is much more than just a pool and parkland with some playground equipment,” praised the jury.

“This redevelopment melds old and new, natural grassland with mown lawns and tennis courts, pool and sundeck with shady trees and lazy slopes, such that discovering these interfaces becomes something of an adventure in itself. Indeed nearby residents and visitors alike are often heard to comment that they happily stay all day.”

The ambition for the project was to reinvigorate the 7.5 hectare park and provide upgrades to the tired public pool, but the overriding principle was to premiate landscape over built form. This central focus is based on a conviction that in these inner urban areas, green space is sacred.

A large 2,320sqm green roof folds over the building, continually transpiring, oxygenating the city, cooling and humidifying the site while sequestering carbon. This green roof will be monitored to refine and improve the ecology of the landscape.

Other landscape features include meadows and non-movable grass slopes, which trial an alternative low groundcover to mown lawns, and cabbage tree palms which were transplanted from areas destined for logging. The park also has extensive new tree, under-storey and habitat plantings.

The high cover of porous, natural surfaces reduces reflectivity and heat generation, while stormwater harvesting from the concourse supply water to the toilets.












Key initiatives:

  • Tree pit soil volumes are based on best practice data
  • Extensive native meadows protect mature figs from compaction, increasing urban biodiversity
  • Soils are manufactured & topsoil conditions are improved
  • Site earthworks required a balance of cut & fill across the park
  • New pathways are universally accessible, while allowing for natural drainage
  • Bio retention swales improve water quality before discharge to Blackwattle Bay
  • Stormwater is collected in a 500kL underground storage tank for reuse including piped water from the Surry Hills catchment
  • The capacity of the tank allows for 14 days continuous irrigation during peak summer for high use areas- the pool curtilage & park playing field
  • Irrigation smart controls & sensors assist water conservation & management
  • Recycled construction materials from site - sandstone, soils, aggregate subbase, mulch
  • Timber products are from recycled sources
  • Rationalised park lighting to major pathways & energy efficient lamps including LED lights

Photography by Brett Boardman

Click here to see all the winners and commendations for 2014. You can also view articles on all the finalists in the Landscape category here.

Check out all 70 finalists in the interactive video below: