Venice Architecture Biennale shines the spotlight on City of Sydney projects

Waterloo Youth and Community CentreThree City of Sydney projects have been selected to feature as part of the Australian contingent at the world’s top architecture showcase. Waterloo Youth and Community Centre, Prince Alfred Park and Pool, and the Glebe Foreshore Walk will show in the Australian Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale as part of the exhibit titled Repair.

The bi-annual global event attracts the world’s best architectural minds and provides an opportunity for architects and designers to showcase new projects. Australia has one of only 30 permanent pavilions for the display of new national works. Opened by Cate Blanchett ahead of the 2015 Art Biennale, the award-winning Australian Pavilion is the only 21st century building in Venice.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the fact that of 15 projects selected from around Australia, from more than 150 applications, the committee chose three from the City of Sydney demonstrated our commitment to excellent design. “We are passionate about creating beautifully designed public spaces and facilities that encourage our communities to get out and explore and really restore their connections with the natural environment,” said the Lord Mayor.

“I’m incredibly proud of each of these projects – Prince Alfred Park and Pool, the Glebe Foreshore walk, and the wonderful Waterloo home of WEAVE – each of them resulted from close consultation with local communities and long term collaboration between our brilliant City staff and excellent architecture, landscape design and construction teams. This result is a real testament to their dedication.”

Presented by the Australian Institute of Architects and curated by architects Baracco+Wright and artist Linda Tegg, the theme for the Australian Pavilion is repair – with Australian architecture involved in the rehabilitation of the local natural environment.

The exhibition also features 10,000 endangered plants creating a striking multi-sensory living installation entitled Grasslands Repair and Skylight – 100 LED lights simulating the sun’s energy to keep the vegetation alive. Large-scale projections above the plants highlight Australian architectural works that repair the ecosystems they occupy and engage with their urban, social, and cultural environments. The City’s projects will feature in a purpose-made video installation called Ground in the gallery space.

“These projects demonstrate diverse iterations of repair – an architectural approach required in one of the most diverse and ecologically sensitive landscapes in the world,” said Louise Wright from the Victoria-based architects Baracco+Wright. “The City has done an incredible job with these projects that show careful consideration for the use of the land. These are great works to shine an international spotlight on architecture’s role in acts of repair.”

The City of Sydney is also providing more than $20,000 in cash support, through its knowledge exchange sponsorship program, to the Institute of Architects for the 2018 and 2020 Venice Architecture Biennales. The three selected projects are:

An unused amenities block in a former life, the Waterloo Community Centre underwent a $3.5 million makeover in 2012 thanks to joint funding from the City of Sydney and Federal Government. The centre boasts sustainable design features, including a green roof, natural ventilation, energy-efficient lighting and recycled materials.

Local architects Collins and Turner were awarded the Sir John Sulman Medal for the design, an honour shared by the Sydney Opera House and the QVB. Situated near Waterloo Oval, the community centre is the base for Weave Youth and Community Services, a not-for-profit organisation that helps young people, women and families address issues such as mental health, homelessness and substance use.

The City of Sydney spent $20.5 million upgrading the 7.5 hectare park in Surry Hills which opened in May 2013. Once bushland and a camping place for local Gadigal people until the 1850s, the park and pool are very popular with thousands of residents, visitors and city workers sharing the park every day.

The multi award-winning park and pool include a fully-accessible, outdoor year-round heated Olympic pool, tennis and basketball courts, fitness and leisure equipment, kids’ play areas, and walking and cycling paths. An underground stormwater re-use system collects runoff from surrounding streets to supply 95 per cent of the park’s water, while a native grass green roof regulates the temperature of the complex.

Once an eroded embankment with a collapsed sea wall and a land overrun with weeds, the City of Sydney invested $20 million over 10 years transforming the Glebe waterfront into a beautiful public space. An uninterrupted stretch of Sydney waterfront was made accessible to the public for the first time since early European settlement, connecting Glebe and Annandale with a scenic 2.2 kilometre foreshore walk.

Used daily by hundreds of walkers and bike riders, the foreshore walk offers waterfront recreation, continuous bike and wheelchair access, bike racks and canoe facilities with easy access to the water’s edge. The use of seawalls, niches, rocky embankments, saltmarsh and mangroves have helped local marine habitat thrive, and shrubs and trees provide shelter and shade for aquatic life.

The 16th International Architecture Biennale in Venice runs 26 May – 25 November 2018. For more information about the event, visit: for details.

Image: Waterloo Youth and Community Centre