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Over 6,500 sandstone blocks, 75,000 native plants, a six-storey high terraced lawn and an underground culture facility are just a few of the main features of Sydney’s Barangaroo Reserve, officially opened to the public on 22 August.

Led by US-based landscape architect Peter Walker and Australia’s Johnson Pilton Walker (JPW), the Park’s design has been six years in the making, beginning in 2009/2010 when an international tender process was held to choose the design team for the Sydney landmark.

Peter Walker and JPW’s complete transformation of a six-hectare disused shipping container yard into one of Sydney’s most stunning green headlands is a welcomed sight for those that campaigned to have the western side of Sydney's CBD to be returned to the public domain, only to have the majority of it transformed into the one of the largest commercial development projects in Sydney’s history—Barangaroo South.

The team’s design juxtaposes a rugged sandstone topography inspired by the naturalistic pre-1836 shoreline of the historic Port Jackson area, against the new modern west CBD, which will include building designs from the likes of Wilkinson Eyre architects, Renzo Piano, Francis-Jones Morehan Thorp, Rogers Stirk and Collins and Turner.

The $250 million Barangaroo Reserve project saw 10,000 Hawkesbury sandstone blocks mined from the site and used for to create the park’s naturalistic landforms. 75,000 native plants and trees (around 83 species), including Angophoras, Banksias, and Port Jackson and Moreton Bay figs, were also shipped in and planted by a massive team of landscapers and Tafe students.

Buried beneath Barangaroo reserve, under the undulating mounds of dirt, grass and sandstone, is the largest cultural space Sydney has seen. It's longer than the SCG, taller than a six-storey building and will have enough space to accommodate 5,000 people. The space has been called the ‘Cutaway” as it features a 14.5 metre tall sandstone wall that shows where the sandstone for the site was mined.

Perhaps one of the biggest feats was the reconfiguring of the rectangular-shaped shipping yard into a new harbour cove with tidal pools which reconnects the city directly to the water. After a two-and-a-half-year construction process the naturalistic form of the headland now visually links nearby Balls Head, Goat Island and Ballast Point headland archipelagos.

Barangaroo Reserve Quick Facts:

  • 10,000 sandstone blocks were excavated from the sandstone on site
  • 6,500 sandstone blocks were used to create the foreshore
  • 75,000 native plants were planted
  • 84 species of native plants were chosen, most native to the Sydney region
  • The 18,000sqm cultural facility is as long as the SCG and six storeys tall

Images: Barangaroo Delivery Authority