Andrew Burges Architects, in conjunction with Grimshaw and TCL, have been chosen to design Sydney’s largest aquatic centre since the 2000 Olympics, beating 143 other entries to be named the winner of the Green Square Gunyama Park and Aquatic Centre design competition by judges this morning.

The scheme integrates the aquatic centre with a new park and sports field, providing a venue that facilitates a wide range of activities – for children looking for a place to play, families that want to enjoy a picnic, and of course swimmers hoping to improve their lap times.

“This appears to be a pool about relaxing as well as providing for active swimming and recreation, and is a sensual reading of how people use swimming areas,” the competition judges say.

“[We] believe that this scheme will become a very special and unique type of community experience for the residents of Green Square.”

The design is inspired by the ocean pools at some of Sydney’s best known beaches – Bondi, Bronte, South Curl Curl and Malabar, with the team visiting many aquatic centres in their quest to create one that would provide the pleasures associated with Sydney’s beachside pools.

“We were very focussed on the idea of inclusion, not just for fitness fanatics, but for different types of people and the different ways they will enjoy the centre, even if it’s just reading the paper in the sun and having the occasional dunk in the water,” architect Andrew Burges adds.

At the centre of the proposed aquatic centre is a 50 metre, heated outdoor pool set within a larger, irregular shaped ‘beach pool’ that will provide generous space for lap swimmers as well as people just playing in the water.

This is complemented by a 25 metre indoor ‘program pool’ where swimming lessons will take place, and which is four times the size of the program pool at the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre, an indoor leisure pool and a hydrotheraphy pool.

The centre will be set in Gunyama Park, a new landscaped recreation area with extensive raised boardwalks that are used to circulate through the pool and wetland landscape, picnicking and adventure play areas, and an all-weather sports field.

Also included in the proposal is a gym, a long covered outdoor deck, a skate park, a rain garden and the restoration of the Gunyama wetlands. A photovoltaic roof, rain harvesting system and an emphasis on bio filtration contribute to the sustainability initiatives of the project.

Construction of the pool is scheduled to begin in January 2017 once major drainage works are completed by Sydney Water and the City of Sydney. The Green Square Aquatic Centre will cost approximately $50 million.