The Walsh Bay Arts Precinct has joined the winners circle for the first time since opening, taking out the Adaptive Reuse category at the National Trust Heritage Awards 2022.

Designed by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects, the Precinct was announced the joint winner of the category at Doltone House last Friday. Ngununggula, Southern Highlands Regional Art Gallery at Retford Park, also designed by TZG, and Stephenson’s Mill were the other two winners. The ABC’s Simon Marnie presented the award.

The former cargo wharves has been repurposed as the permanent home for nine of the country’s foremost creative companies. Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Director Peter Tonkin says the adaptive reuse of many elements was crucial.

walsh bay pier 2/3

“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. 

“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. 

Large sections of the roof were raised to increase usable performance space and accommodate the required lighting and sound equipment, and retractable seating banks were installed to deliver flexible performance spaces. 

walsh bay pier 2/3

Walsh Bay Arts Precinct’s resident companies include the Bangarra Dance Theatre, Gondwana Choirs, Sydney Dance Company, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Sydney Theatre Company and The Song Company, all located at Wharf 4/5. At Pier 2/3, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Australian Theatre for Young People and Bell Shakespeare share their home. The Precinct is also a key venue of the 23rd Biennale of Sydney until 13 June and will also host Vivid Sydney from 27 May until 18 June. 

The National Trust Heritage Awards is an annual celebration of outstanding practice in the field of heritage, awarding excellence in conservation, protection, and interpretation of Aboriginal, built, natural and cultural heritage during the past year. Read up on the full list of winners here.