Monday, 2 March 2015

1992: An early scheme for Barangaroo

The Sydney Morning Herald in 1992 published a vision of what East Darling Harbour (now known as Barangaroo) could have looked like. The vision itself also included the King Street Wharf precinct, which underwent its redevelopment in the late 1990's through to the end of the first decade of the 2000's.

Peddle Thorp Walker was behind the vision.

Source: Dickinson, Michael. 1992. "Visions Plundered." The Sydney Morning Herald, July 16: 4a (Sydney Sesqui Liftout).

There are some that question the current scheme for Barangaroo for various reasons which include: overdevelopment, buildings that are too tall, a park that is "isolated" and inadequate public space. I'd like them to have a look at what are getting as opposed to what could have been.

But had we gone with the 1992 scheme would we have an 11-hectare park at the northern end including a rebuilt 1836 headland? Definitely not. I think the large parkland is a great public asset to Sydney and it does provide easy access to the harbour for all. It is the western CBD's answer to the Botanical Gardens and the Domain Parklands to the east. However, the article claims that 17 hectares of parkland would be provided.

And how did we get the park in the first place? By focusing on more intense (or dense) development at its Southern end (Barangaroo South). The buildings are taller which may be a negative to some, but sometimes we have to sacrifice something to get something good. The taller buildings and their floor plates also respond to current trends for office space in Sydney including energy efficiency and larger floor plates.

The larger parklands do have an advantage over the smaller park lands featured in the vision. The spaces front the harbour whereas the 1992 scheme largely had them set back from the harbour surrounded by buildings. Plus the Barangaroo park will allow for a wide range of community activities like live theatre and concerts. Even though the park is not yet finished, there has been a positive response to events held on the site like New Year's Eve, where thousands have managed to buy tickets to have a front-row seat to the Fireworks display.

One plus that the 1992 vision has over the current scheme is that there is a focus on residential development with housing for 20 000 which would have gone a fair way to improving the housing stock in central Sydney. About 3000 people will eventually live at Barangaroo, under the current scheme.

The vision was part of a broader feature by Michael Dickinson where he examined the visions for Sydney over the years and the failure to turn them into reality.

Barangaroo taking shape in October 2014.
Photo was taken by the Author.

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