Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre

Andrew Burges Architects & Grimshaw with the City of Sydney

Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre (GPARC) is located within the Green Square Town Centre, one of the largest urban regeneration sites in Australia. The program includes a combination of five pools (indoor and outdoor), a large health and fitness centre, and a park including a sporting field, outdoor gym and outdoor BBQ’s. In response to its high-density context, the design reconceptualises the Aquatic Centre typology to include an expanded range of community uses and inclusive recreational scenarios, both passive and active.

All aspects of the traditional Aquatic Centre were re-conceived to create moments of inclusive recreational opportunity – the pool geometry transformed from a 50 metre rectangular pool to a more free form geometry that provides unprogrammed water spaces for play and relaxation as well as more active lap swimming, the change rooms were conceived as poolside cabanas creating a diverse range of changing places accommodating the many different social scenarios and abilities required at a public pool. Surrounding the pool, tiered seating, conceived as pre-cast ‘rocks’, creates a stepped edge condition that easily accommodates wheelchairs and prams.

As part of this reconceptualisation GPARC introduces a completely fresh material palette to the Aquatic Centre typology, including a mass timber structure with translucent ETFE pillows to create a warm and inviting interior pool hall filled with daylight, playful references to beaches pools through the detailing and colour palette of the cabanas, and an emphasis on community health and well-being through the rich timber palette of the gym areas.

GPARC is Australia’s first 5 Star Green Star Design and As Built Aquatic facility and includes several ESD innovations described in the sustainability section.

Photography by Peter Bennetts.