Architecture & High Performance Technology
ACTIVATING THE WATERFRONT: INHABITED PIERS
The peninsula of Pyrmont has been rebuilt several times across its history through the mechanisms of ‘subtraction’ and ‘addition’. Subtraction has formed Pyrmont’s past, with the quarries of ‘Paradise’, ‘Purgatory’ and ‘Hellhole’ carving out its dramatic topography, with the scars of this industrial heritage still strewn across its landmass today. Addition has occurred both horizontally, in terms of land reclamation to the east, and vertically, in the form of new mono-functional residential towers of today. Yet, very little of this dramatic history is reflected in Pyrmont’s built environment along its western edge. Here the waterfront has become isolated from the land by the Western Distributor, cutting off access and activity from the waterfront, creating a dead-space. The question is how can we activate the waterfront along Pyrmont’s western edge, reconnecting it with the land, reflecting its topographical past, but also creating the density a growing Sydney so desperately needs?
To respond to this, my proposal explores the opportunity for a series of inhabited piers along Pyrmont’s west, tying the water back to the land, integrating water-based programmes and infrastructure, and celebrating Pyrmont’s topographical history. The piers are aligned with existing urban axes, extending these out into the water, and breaking the boundary set by the Western Distributor. The northern most pier takes the form of a dramatic folding insitu-concrete structure, echoing the stratified and laminated topography of the land. Hung within are lightweight multi-storey timber-clad boxes accommodating residential and office spaces, suspended from the concrete ceiling above. Sandwiched above and below are generous public realms, connecting land and water. At ground this encompasses water-based programmes such as dragon boat racing, floating public pools, and a water taxi stop. On the roof, a viewing deck starts out at the cliffs to Pyrmont’s north, before stepping up further and further to the end of the pier, providing a dramatic lookout, allowing users to look back and reflect on Pyrmont’s topography and history.