In the lead up to the opening of Sydney’s Barangaroo Point Reserve in July, the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) and Barangaroo Delivery Authority have released a preview of the new six hectare public park.

Designed by Johnson Pilton Walker in association with Peter Walker and Partners Landscape Architecture, the new urban space located on the northern end of the Barangaroo precinct will give the public access to the old shipping yard for the first time in 100 years. Driving the design is the re-imagination of what the natural bush would have looked like when the Aboriginal Gadigal people still lived there.

“One of the elements of the harbour headlands is that in their natural form they were examples of the bush. They still play a strong part of this symbolic meaning of the Sydney Cove area so we were determined to recreate that rich, complicated and more interesting plant composition for the forum of the headland, while adding a dimension of naturalness to the overall park,” explained Landscape Architect and Lead Designer, Peter Walker.

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Over 70,000 trees, shrubs and native plants such as Banksias, large Angophoras, and Port Jackson and Moreton Bay fig trees, have been planted to realise this vision, with the team noting that paintings and drawings, with the help of computer devices, were instrumental in helping the team build a headland similar to what would have been prior to the arrival of the first fleet.

“Paul Keating said to me, ‘I want a monumental piece of landscape architecture’. No one has ever said that to me before in my life,” said Walker.

Contributing to the pre-colonial vision of the foreshore is the use of 10,000 sandstone blocks excavated directly from the Barangaroo site, 6,500 of which were arranged around the foreshore and utilised to create tidal rockpools.

“None of this had been done before,” said Kieron Little, Project director, Lend Lease. “We used a lot of the old quarrying techniques. We looked at the fractures in the rock, we looked at that natural line that you have in Sydney.”

Placement of the sandstone blocks November 2014

Foreshore walkway

Other features of the larger public realm include a 10 metre walkway along the foreshore, grassed areas, and links to the greater Sydney Harbour walk from the ANZAC Bridge to Woolloomooloo.

“(Planting) 70,000 trees in the middle of a global city is a major achievement and reopening the foreshore link from the Botanical Garden around to Darling Harbour is amazing,” said Joshua French, Vice-President of the AILA.

“It’s right in the city, a great park for people in the city… reconnecting people with the water’s edge.

“Take off a shoe, sit at the water’s edge and look at the beautiful landscape.”

Northern cove. Images: Hamilton Lund

Watch Barangaroo Point Reserve: Vision to Reality in the video below: