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Barangaroo Reserve

Barangaroo Reserve is a new public park built from site-extracted sandstone, restoring the historical headland foreshore that has been inaccessible to the public in more than a century. Led by PWP Landscape Architecture and local Australian landscape architects, JPW, the lightng designers at Webb drew inspiraton from the area’s rich and colourful maritme history, which once used light as navigatonal beacons, guiding vessels around Sydney harbour; linking past with present by marking out the original 1836 shoreline.

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© Johnson Pilton Walker

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has enabled Sydney to reclaim a container port in the centre of the city to dramatically transform access to the harbour and facilitate economic development. In 2009 PWP with local partners JPW Architects began leading the public domain strategy for Barangaroo, a stimulating network of new landmarks on Sydney’s waterfront named after a powerful Indigenous woman of historical importance in colonial Sydney. Encompassing 22 hectares that lie directly west of the Central Business District and The Rocks, Barangaroo is made up of three precincts: Barangaroo South, a mix of office and residential; Barangaroo Central, a mixed-use/recreational space with large areas for programmed festivals and entertainment; and Barangaroo Reserve, the re-creation of a headland adjacent to the Millers Point neighbourhood that restores the visual geography of Sydney Harbour.

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© PWP Landscape Architecture

Barangaroo Reserve transforms a huge expanse of empty concrete into humane, usable space with ecological goals always in sight. All plantings are native, not just to Australia, but specifically to the Sydney area. Barangaroo has also been selected as one of 17 precincts worldwide to participate in the Clinton Climate Initiative Development Program, which supports large-scale urban projects that reduce on-site CO2 emissions to zero.

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© PWP Landscape Architecture

The project exemplifies the One Planet Living principles, which provide the framework and guidelines for sustainable development, from Zero Carbon and Zero Waste to Sustainable Water and Materials to Sustainable Land Use, Wildlife, and Transport. The materials removed from the existing site, such as the kilometre of concrete caissons, asphalt and mass excavations of the existing container port, have been ground up for base layers and creation of the headland. The 10,000 blocks of sandstone excavated from the site and moved to the foreshore edge eliminated the transport of thousands of truck-loads into the city.

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© PWP Landscape Architecture

Design Features:

Barangaroo Reserve includes bush walks, lawns, harbourside lookouts, shared walking and cycling tracks, plus two new harbour coves. It also features a naturalistic shoreline created with sandstone excavated directly from the Barangaroo site, providing an intimate connection to Sydney Harbour.

The Reserve also features the Cutaway, a massive cultural space built beneath the park. Underneath the Cutaway are two floors of car park with parking for 300 cars. Entry to the car park is via Towns Place.

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© PWP Landscape Architecture

The Hawkesbury sandstone used to create Barangaroo Reserve was excavated on site. The park was built using more than 10,000 sandstone blocks excavated and cut on the site. Some 6,500 blocks were placed to create the foreshore. More than 42,000 tonnes of rough stone and a further 30,000 tonnes of crushed stone was also used in the construction.

Some 75,000 native trees, plants and shrubs have been used to landscape Barangaroo Reserve. A total of 84 species were chosen, 79 of which are native to Sydney Harbour. Many of the species are not to be found in commercial nurseries, so seeds and cuttings were collected from wild sites around Sydney Harbour and the Hawkesbury River.

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© Barangaroo Delivery Authority

Barangaroo Reserve is watered by a leading-edge water recycling system. The use of water efficient appliances, using captured rainwater and treated water for toilet flushing, irrigation, wash down and fire suppression are major features of the entire Barangaroo development.

Underneath the Cutaway car park is an integrated water reuse system, which provides for the capture, treatment, storage and reuse of seepage and stormwater for the irrigation of the park. The two tanks – an enormous 1,200m3 rainwater tank and 180m3 seepage tank – are up to 17 metres below sea level.

“It reconnects Sydney’s waterfront by re-establishing its historical shoreline and restoring one of Sydney five inner harbour headlands. The result crosses the boundaries between the old, the very old and the new in order to create an iconic open space for the future. Executed with fine detail, the project will become recognisable worldwide, thereby enhancing Sydney’s identity. But the project goes deeper than this, reflecting its historical and cultural heritage, opening up an important part of the city’s foreshore for everyone to use, and providing new habitat for threatened and declining indigenous species.” – Commented / AILA National Awards

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© PWP Landscape Architecture

PWP Landscape Architecture:

PWP is leading the design to re-create a historic headland on an abandoned dock in Sydney Harbor. The headland was a “Club Cape,” a bluff gradually rising from the north and culminating in a steep cliff-like face at the south. The new headland is distinguished from its historic model by incorporating an underground cultural center and a public garage accessed by an elevator discretely located at the highest point of the headland. A shoreline walk provides major public access; it features pedestrian and bicycle pathways separated by a sandstone wall that follows the 1836 shore edge. Extracted on the site, large blocks of sandstone —a material that references both the topography and the building material of early Sydney—will mark the edges of the harbor with tidal pools. Plantings are specific not just to Australia but to Sydney and include a replicated bush landscape with large specimen trees. The result is a park that unites cultural references with natural processes.

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© PWP Landscape Architecture


The harbor edge is made of large sandstone blocks that line the tidal slope to the water and create opportunities for people to engage with a great variety of conditions, including tidal pools and rocky beaches.

Water-jetting, which “weathers” surfaces in a naturalistic way, shapes and softens the layered stone. A series of preliminary prototypes have been used to develop guidelines for the stone installation, and a series of detail models explore and demonstrate these shoreline opportunities.

The average quarried blocks are 750 millimeters high, 1,500 millimeters wide, and 2,500 to 5,000 millimeters long. They are placed in side-by-side cascades to create intimate stepped areas where people can explore the tidal zone and bolder outcroppings for more adventurous play.

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© Johnson Pilton Walker


The Foreshore Promenade in Headland Park runs along the harbor from the entry at Towns Place to Hickson Road and continues into Barangaroo Central. A stone wall runs along the Headland Park Foreshore Promenade, which marks the historic 1836 foreshore edge.

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© Johnson Pilton Walker


By contrast, the intimately shaded Bush Walk runs up-slope from the Foreshore Promenade. It begins at Argyle Place and terminates at the Upper Bluff Lawn with dramatic views of the Harbor. The Upper Bluff – the highest point of Headland Park – gently slopes to the north and offers space for passive recreation. Although the experience shifts from the intimacy of the Bush Walk to an open clearing, the bush canopy is woven into the Upper Bluff through clusters of large fig trees and eucalyptus, providing shade on the upper lawn.

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© PWP Landscape Architecture


The bush is the most complex ecology in the Headland Park. It consists of three separate layers: 1) a ground-plane layer of plants from about 1/2 meter to 2 meters in height; 2) an understory of plants up to approximately 5 meters in height that gives the headland the distinctive shape of existing Sydney headlands; and 3) canopy layers of trees 10 to 20 meters in height that forms a series of cathedral-like spaces above the bush planting layers.

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© Johnson Pilton Walker


The Northern Cove separates the Headland Park from Barangaroo Central and the Urban District. It gives shape to the shoreline and creates opportunities for harbor views close to Hickson Boulevard. Thin slabs of sandstone arranged like shingles gently slope through the tidal zone and transition into slabs of terraced sandstone that create broad seat-high steps.

A grove of canopy trees at the entrance of the park from Hickson Road into the Northern Cove creates a civic space unifying the two sides – Headland Park Promenade to the right and Barangaroo Central Promenade to the left.

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master plan – © PWP Landscape Architecture


The main entrance to Barangaroo Headland Park at Towns Place will function as a drop-off and parking area for the park; the second entry-Argyle Place-the heart of the historic Millers Point neighborhood will provide an entrance that is also a revitalized town square.

Pre-industrial photographs indicate that the neighborhood had fine-grained streets and laneways. The highlighted section above was demolished to make room for industrialization in the 1920’s.Towns Place was a bustling waterfront with many buildings, and Argyle Place was surrounded by colonial structures. The demolition resulted in wide streets and narrow pedestrian paths with few trees and amenities. In order to reverse the industrial past, the new plan widens pedestrian zones provides trees, furniture, and amenities so that people can walk and gather comfortably.

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© Barangaroo Delivery Authority

Project Data:

Project name: Barangaroo Reserve
Location: Hickson Rd, Barangaroo New South Wales 2000, Australia
Coordinates: -33.857096, 151.201312
Type: Park, Waterfront
Project Area: 60,000 sqm
Status: Built
Completion Year: 2014
Visit Barangaroo Reserve’s website: here


  • 2016 – Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA Awards) – AILA National Awards – Category: Parks and Open Space
  • 2016 – Architizer A+ Awards – Typology Categories: Landscape & Planning > Public Park – Jury Winner
  • 2015 – WAN Awards – Category: Waterfront – Winner

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Barangaroo Delivery Authority
Landscape Architects:

Project Team:

  • Project Management: Advisian Pty Ltd
  • Architect: WMK


  • General Contractor: Lend Lease (formerly Baulderstone Pty Ltd), Sydney, Australia
  • Landscape Contractor: Regal Inovations


  • Soils Engineer: Simon Leake, SESL Australia
  • Civil and Structural Engineers: Robert Bird Group and Aurecon
  • Hydraulic Engineer: Warren Smith and Partners
  • Marine Engineer: Hyder Consulting
  • Geotechnical Engineer: Douglas Partners
  • Traffic Engineer: Halcrow
  • Lighting Engineer: Webb Australia Group


  • Quarry Operation and Chief Stone Mason: Troy Stratti
  • Horticulturalist: Stuart Pittendrigh
  • Construction Observation: Tract Landscape Architects
  • Construction Management: Evans and Peck
  • Wayfinding and Signage: Emery Studio
  • Historic Interpretation: Judith Rintoul
  • History and Arts: Peter Emmett
  • Plant Procurement Nursery: Andreasens Green

Text Description: © Courtesy of PWP Landscape Architecture, Barangaroo Delivery Authority
Images: © PWP Landscape Architecture, Johnson Pilton Walker, Barangaroo Delivery Authority, lend lease

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