Sydney’s biggest aquatic centre since the 2000 Olympic Games has opened in the inner-city precinct of Green Square.
The state-of-the-art $106.5 million City of Sydney facility features a 50m pool set within recreation areas inspired by Sydney’s ocean pools, a 25m pool with the third largest moveable pool floor in the world, a kids’ water playground, hydrotherapy pool, gym, creche, café and sports field.
Waste, water and energy initiatives plus design features make this the first aquatic centre in Australia to hold a 5-star rating under the Green Building Council of Australia design rating scale.
“We’re thrilled to open the doors to the largest pool complex built in Sydney since the 2000 Olympics, and we invite you to dive right on in,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.
“Out new aquatic centre is not only beautiful and fun, it’s the first in Australia to achieve a five-star sustainability rating. It also features a full array of accessibility features, so it’s a place for everyone to enjoy.
“Our architects and designers were inspired by Sydney’s much-loved ocean pools, setting the large lap pool within larger recreation spaces reminiscent of hanging out at or wading into the beach.
“The jewel of the complex is the 50m outdoor lap pool. Its unusual shape inspired by Sydney’s coastline edge allows swimmers to walk and paddle in or sit for a breather on the shoreline.
“Inside, a stunning timber-supported transparent roof floods the pools with natural light while protecting swimmers from harmful UV rays. The 25m indoor pool has an innovative moveable floor that can be risen or lowered to cater for everything from water polo to children’s swimming classes.
“For children there’s a shallow pool for waterplay with slides, spraying devices and a tipping bucket, while adults can also make use of a hydrotherapy pool, the gym, fitness studios and outdoor yoga deck.
“This is the City’s sixth and largest aquatic centre right in the middle of one of Sydney’s fastest growing precincts. From children splashing and serious swimmers improving their lap times to gym-lovers and sports teams on the field, this terrific centre has something for everyone.”
Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre features:
• a 50m heated outdoor pool set within a larger pool inspired by Sydney’s best-loved ocean pools
• a 25m heated indoor pool with a moveable floor (the largest in the southern hemisphere) to change the pool’s depth for a range of programming – from water polo to children’s swimming lessons
• a fun kids’ water play area with a shallow pool, slides, spraying devices, and a tipping bucket
• an indoor hydrotherapy pool
• a gym, fitness studios, consultation rooms, and outdoor yoga deck
• a creche with an indoor play area
• a café
• two small meeting rooms available for hire
• an expansive multipurpose synthetic sports field
• an outdoor fitness area
• a bronze sculpture Bangala by Aboriginal Elder Aunty Julie Freeman and artist Jonathan Jones.
The name, ‘Gunyama’, translates to ‘wind from the south-west’ in Sydney Aboriginal language and refers to the strong southerlies that blow through the area.
Design features, including waste, water and energy initiatives, have contributed to the centre’s 5-star rating under the Green Building Council of Australia design rating scale.
The building uses a combination of rooftop solar panels and cogeneration systems to produce electricity for the centre and park operations. The heat by-product of the cogeneration system is used for warming the pool water. Surplus electricity will power neighbouring buildings in the Green Square community and cultural precinct.
Water from the Green Square urban water recycling centre is used for toilet flushing and irrigating the surrounding parkland. Earth berms made from excavated material surround the aquatic centre to provide insulation for internal spaces during warm Sydney summers.
The aquatic centre’s timber and ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) roof adds to the building’s sustainability rating by reducing the building’s reliance on artificial lighting.
The facility is the first aquatic centre in New South Wales to have a fully accredited Changing Places toilet and to implement an Access Key.
The Access Key information guide provides information, prediction, structure, orientation and sensory integration to help visitors with Autism, cognitive disability, intellectual disability, dementia and Alzheimer’s to familiarise themselves with the facility and plan their journey ahead of time, online.
The pools have accessible entry options including ramps and hoists and changing and toilet facilities for people with disabilities. Specialty accessible fitness equipment is also available.
A bronze sculpture modelled on handheld water carriers once used by Aboriginal communities along Australia’s east coast is another central feature at the new complex. The artwork, Bangala, (water carriers) is by Aboriginal Elder Aunty Julie Freeman and artist Jonathan Jones.
For those moving into Green Square, Bangala will be a permanent reminder of the enduring importance of Eora culture and the area’s aquatic history.
Design and construction
The aquatic centre was designed by Andrew Burges Architects and Grimshaw with landscape architects Taylor Cullity Lethlean. The concept was chosen from more than 140 other entries in an anonymous design competition run by the City of Sydney.
CPB Contractors built the new centre following an extensive competitive tender process. Construction began in 2018. Belgravia Leisure will operate the new facility.
The centre is a 10-minute walk from Green Square train station. It sits within the 278-hectare Green Square development area, which includes the suburbs of Beaconsfield and Zetland, and parts of Rosebery, Alexandria, and Waterloo. When complete in 2031, the Green Square urban renewal area will be home to more than 62,000 residents, among the highest residential density in Australia.
The City is investing $550 million in extensive infrastructure and streetscaping works throughout the area, as well as world-class community facilities including a stunning library and plaza, childcare centre, creative hub, public artworks and parks.