Parramatta will get a new swimming pool after the state government and local council agreed to split the cost of the $77 million project.
The NSW government and Parramatta City Council have jointly announced the winning design for the Parramatta Aquatic centre, after more than a year of secrecy around the design.
The concept design by Grimshaw, Andrew Burges Architects and McGregor Coxall were chosen from a shortlist of four designs from an international design excellence competition in June 2018. However, due to a funding dispute between the council and the state government, the winning design has been kept under wraps.
The aquatic centre will be located in the Mays Hill Precinct of Parramatta Park – an 85-hectare of parkland that includes the World Heritage-listed Old Government House and Domain.
Andrew Burges explained that the heritage importance of the area and the topography of park were significant constraints of the site. A primary motivation of the design is to “minimize the impact of [the building] within that park setting and at the same time, give it a clear and singular identity,” he said.
The project will include a 10-lane, 50-metre outdoor pool, a 25-metre indoor pool, learn to swim facilities, a cafe, and fitness and parking facilities.
Grimshaw managing partner Sydney Andrew Cortese told ArchitectureAU that the project will provide an important recreational facility to an under-resourced area of Parramatta.
“If you look at Parramatta as a whole, the south-west corner is the least tended to,” he said. “The pool has this idea of balancing the social impact of the development of Parramatta. It’s so important that community-based aquatic recreation informs part of the city’s cohesiveness and brings many people together.
“It’s very much a place of inclusivity and accessibility. It’s a secured environment but it’s also incredibly open and something to observe and look into. And that’s the kind of spirit that we were looking for.”
Andrew Burges Architects and Grimshaw are also part of the winning team for the City of Sydney’s Green Square Gunyama Park and Aquatic Centre competition along with Taylor Cullity Lethlean.
The proposed aquatic centre will replace the Parramatta Memorial Pool, which was demolished in 2017 by the NSW government to make way for Western Sydney Stadium designed by Populous, which opened in May 2019.
The decision to demolish the pool sparked a bitter battle between Parramatta City Council and the state government over who should pay for the replacement. In November 2018, the NSW government announced it would deliver a $30 million like-for-like replacement for the former pool.
The council and the state government have now agreed to jointly fund the $77 million project equally to the tune of $38.5 million each.
A development application is expected in 2020 and the pool is anticipated for completion in 2023.
Article originally published in ArchitectureAU September 11 2019, by Linda Cheng.