The Walsh Bay Arts Precinct, designed by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects, has taken out four awards at the 2022 NSW Architecture Awards, including prestigious NSW Architecture Medallion.

The transformation from woolshed to arts precinct at Wharf 4/5 and Pier 2/3 was recognised by the judges as the exemplary project undertaken in New South Wales in the last 12 months. The Precinct also received the awards for Public Architecture, Greenway Award for Heritage and a commendation for Interior Architecture.

“It has been a genuine privilege working on the robust and beautiful twentieth-century buildings at Walsh Bay, a visionary industrial project originally created for the benefit of the public, and to see it now grown into a different and even more focal public role. It’s also been a privilege working with so many inspiring people in all aspects of the project,” says Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Director Peter Tonkin.

walsh bay arts precinct

Walsh Bay Arts Precinct was unveiled earlier this year following the completion of major redevelopment works on the historically significant Pier 2/3 and Wharf 4/5 undertaken by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects. The Precinct recently won in the Adaptive Reuse category at the National Trust Heritage Awards 2022.

The Walsh Bay precinct has provided a permanent home for nine of the country’s foremost performing arts companies, including the Sydney Dance Company, Sydney Theatre Company and Bell Shakespeare.

“I think it looks amazing. It’s such a big project that you can’t sum it up in a few words. The biggest thing is that it still feels like an industrial wharf. It feels expansive, as opposed to being divided into little boxes, which in fact it is,” Tonkin says.

“It’s a whole series of very heavily air conditioned and acoustically sealed boxes. And the effort on behalf of all stakeholders have ensured it remains a big timber wharf. 

TZG retained and reused a number of existing elements, looking to maintain and honour the history of the pier.

“It was essential to keep the character. There's nothing like these buildings anywhere. Sydney has got a bunch of these wharves currently being demolished. They’re just so unique, you couldn’t build them now. They become a survivor of a particular phase. 

walsh bay arts precinct

“They were beautifully designed at time, incredibly efficient for loading stuff onto ships, and they have a completely different use. But you want to keep that rawness, that industrial character, the beauty of the timber. 

The Australian Institute of Architects’ award program enables public and peer recognition of the innovative work of members, and provides the Institute with a valuable mechanism to promote architects and architecture across Australia and internationally. The winners were announced via a virtual livestream event on Friday 1 July.