The Goods Line
A lyrical recount of the aspirations for Sydney’s new Goods Line, Ultimo by featuring Sacha Coles from ASPECT Studios and John Choi from CHROFI for the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority. The Goods Line is a new civic spine for Sydney. Once a conduit for trade, the former rail line is reinterpreted to carry the precious cargo of a thriving neighbourhood – culture, creativity and community.
“The Goods Line, a NSW Government initiative and delivered by Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (now Property NSW), is the key strategic link and an important green space for this burgeoning part of the city. It provides a connection through to the Devonshire Tunnel under Central Station and Chinatown and Darling Harbour, as well as tapping into the various cultural, educational, and media institutions such as UTS’s Frank Gehry designed Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, the ABC, and Sydney TAFE that border the park.” – Aspect Studios
“The Goods Line is an exemplar project that revitalized a piece of disused infrastructure in central Sydney to provide a linear connection through the city promoting sustainable transport. The project has achieved a high level of activation with a range of urban design and social infrastructure initiatives, ranging from ping pong tables to study pods. The project acts as a catalyst for change in the city, and anticipates the reorientation of buildings and spaces to reflect its location.” – Jury Citation / Australia Award for Urban Design
The Goods Line is a linear spine that connects several diverse city neighbourhoods, from Central to Surry Hills, to the harbour via the Darling Harbour Precinct. The spine stitches together a unique concentration of cultural, media and educational institutions forming a civic space rich with latent potential.
Beyond its connectivity function, The Goods Line responds to a shared desire to connect and collaborate that exists amongst the stakeholders – Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, University of Technology, Sydney, Powerhouse Museum, The ABC, TAFE – Sydney Institute, and City of Sydney. The Goods Line is conceived as a public platform for interaction, co-curation of events and exhibitions.
The revitalisation is expressed via a singular move. The laying of a new datum, a precast concrete ‘figure’, onto the existing railway corridor, articulating the site’s history and concurrently telling the story of today. These precast concrete panels form the paving, edges, steps, benches and seating as an integrated prefabricated piece. They are a re-tooling of an industrial element to a social purpose using digital fabrication process.
Scattered along this ‘figure’ are a variety of opportunities for play, socialisation and respite ranging from water play elements, fitness stations, an oversized communal table, generous terraced seating and cantilevered pods that offer a nestled escape within the canopies of the moreton bay fig trees. Collectively these diverse moments create a civic space that encourages occupation by different user groups within one of Sydney’s most densely populated precincts.
The ‘ground’ revealed by the absence of the ‘figure’ creates opportunities for robust planting, pocket gardens and lawns amongst the meandering railway tracks, further softened by the presence of the line of established fig trees that provide a visual barrier to Darling Drive.
A corridor once energised by the movement of industrial goods will be re-energised with people and the exchange of ideas, marking the transformation from industrial infrastructure to social infrastructure.
“The Goods Line is an exemplary addition to the social infrastructure of inner-Sydney through the clever adaptive use of a defunct rail line. It is an outstanding demonstration of landscape’s role in improving urban connectivity. The repurposed rail line completes a missing link in the green infrastructure connecting Central Park, Darling Harbour and Circular Quay, while also providing an enjoyable destination in its own right with shaded performance spaces, play areas and places for both reflection and connection. The hard and soft landscape detailing is extremely well done. Post-industrial chic intertwines with sinuous, sleek concrete; the railway is remembered but not memorialised. The project creates a vibrant urban park that has broad demographic appeal and as a result, strengthens the public life of the area. The design cleverly interprets the rich industrial history of the structure while also creating an exciting new identity that is already stimulating the possibilities of adjacent spaces.” – Jury Citation / AILA National Awards for Civic Landscape
Building on the NSW Government’s vision for a pedestrian and cycle connection from Central to Darling Harbour, ASPECT Studios have led the design for the transformation of this disused Rail Corridor into a vibrant ‘public campus’.
Commissioned by the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and in collaboration with design partners CHROFI, ASPECT Studios have created a public destination which connects more than 80,000 tertiary students, locals and visitors to the many major attractions of Sydney’s much-loved Darling Harbour.
The former elevated rail corridor features a series of ‘platforms’, which can be used for a variety activities including, public entertainment, recreation, festivals and study. It will further connect arts, education and cultural institutions along Sydney’s Cultural Ribbon.
The Goods Line is an example of the potential for design to transform isolated city spaces into creative and connected public destinations which enhance public life.
This unique elevated park has seen a disused Rail Corridor running from Railway Square to Darling Harbour reimagined as a leafy, energised civic spine in the heart of Sydney’s most densely populated area.
“What was once a conduit for trade has been reinterpreted to carry the precious cargo of a thriving neighbourhood: culture, creativity and community,” – says The Goods Line project lead designer and ASPECT Studios director, Sacha Coles.
Project name: The Goods Line
Location: Ultimo Pedestrian Network, Ultimo, New South Wales 2000, Australia
Coordinates: -33.879835, 151.201114
Type: City Space, Linear Park
Length: 273 metres (North section)
Area size: 6,995 sqm (North section)
Project Period: 2011-2015
Groundbreaking: November 29, 2008
Client / Owner / Developer: Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority
Key Stakeholders: University of Technology Sydney, City of Sydney Council, Powerhouse Museum, ABC, TAFE NSW
- Aspect Studios – 9-11 Bailey Street, Adelaide, South Australia, 5000, Australia
- CHROFI – 3/1b The Corso, Sydney, Manly, New South Wales, 2095, Australia
- Acor, AR-MA, Cundall, Deuce Design, Earthscape, Godden Mackay Logan, GTA Consultants, JBA Planning, Lighting Art + Science, Morris Goding
Contractor: Gartner Rose
- Structural/Civil Engineer: ACOR
- Electrical & hydraulic engineer: ACOR
- Heritage consultant: GML Heritage
- Interpretive designer: Deuce Design
- Lighting design: Lighting Art and Science
- Planning consultant: JBA Urban Planning
- Precast concrete: AR-MA
Text Description: © Courtesy of Aspect Studios, CHROFI, AILA National Awards for Civic Landscape, Australia Award for Urban Design
Images: © Aspect Studios, CHROFI, Florian Groehn