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    Australia Award for Urban Design winners announced

    Gemma Battenbough

    The restoration of an 1866 reservoir in Sydney’s Paddington and a Melbourne study into sustainable development along transport corridors are the two recipients of this year’s prestigious urban design award.

    Paddington Reservoir Gardens, which has already been described as a combination of the Baths of Caracalla and The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, scooped the award for urban design excellence, which was announced at the Hyatt Hotel in Canberra last night.

    Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects designed the restoration, in association with James Mather Delaney Design and City of Sydney.

    Constructed on a prominent site in the historic heart of Oxford Street from 1866 to 1878, the Paddington water storage reservoir was covered by a raised grassed park in the 1930s, which hid the site from view. However, instead of capping the site and building a new park above, as originally expected, the design team incorporated many of the reinforced ruins of the heritage listed structure and created sunken and elevated gardens using a carefully selected and limited range of contemporary materials with “exceptional” detailing.

    The result is a “unique, surprising, functional and totally engaging public park”, the judging panel said.

    The City of Melbourne and Victorian Department of Transport also left clutching an award for its research project, Transforming Australian Cities.

    The research includes Melbourne case studies and presents a well-researched argument for strategic residential and employment intensification along public transport corridors. “Cities around the world are in the process of redefining their form to deal with issues of climate change and sustainability, and to make them more liveable. Reinforcing public transport networks is a key part of this challenge,” the judges said.

    “The study helps visualise these higher density corridors using high quality artist impressions, and shows that the required population growth in our cities can be achieved without changing the essential form and character of our existing attractive neighbourhoods.”

    The City of Sydney also earned a commendation for its project, Sustainable Sydney 2030 — The Vision, which provides an urban design framework for major projects in the city centre and in the villages of Sydney.

    The winners were announced at the Hyatt Hotel, Canberra on Tuesday 11 August by minister for the environment, heritage and the arts, Peter Garrett. The awards dinner also opens the third annual Built Environment Meets Parliament summit. The award is hosted by the Planning Institute of Australia with support from the Australian Institute of Architects, the Urban Design Forum, the Property Council of Australia, the Green Building Council of Australia and Association of Consulting Engineers Australia.

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