Overlooked... but inspired
Design Competition: Green Square Aquatic Centre

by Julius Bokor, Tom Rubenach & Richard Storey | November 4, 2014
Overlooked... but inspired<br />Design Competition: Green Square Aquatic Centre


The City of Sydney’s design competition for a new aquatic centre and community park in Green Square earlier this year saw a total of 144 submissions.

bokor architecture + interiors, in partnership with Scape Design, was sadly one of the 139 entries overlooked by the judges.

Now, as the five successful teams shortlisted await the verdict on their ‘Stage 2’ submissions, we present our scheme and examine its contrast in approach and resolution.



An initial reading of the project brief suggested few options were available for the arrangement of the building(s) and park facilities across the site. Height restrictions and a 15m wide stormwater easement running north-south, dictated the site be cut in two halves (shown below); aquatic centre/gym to the west and the park and sports fields to the east. To further restrict flexibility in design, the north east corner of the site (not yet owned by council) was to be developed at a later date. This required a scheme that functioned with or without this section of the site. Sadly this resulted in a very repetitive approach across the entries submitted, including those shortlisted.
 Proposal by bokor architecture + interiors                       Proposal by others

To be surrounded by an assortment of 6 to 26 storey apartment buildings, the site called out for something to break the orthogonal, rectilinear geometry of its proposed neighbours. Given the site would be enclosed by taller buildings, it was important the design positively addressed a ‘fifth elevation’, the view from above. Access to and from the site would be from all sides, requiring the need for the design to embrace desire lines and not restrict or obstruct movement. It was crucial to integrate the park with the indoor pool and gym facilities and maintain a sense of transparency at ground level. For these reasons our approach differed to the norm, as we sought to spread the functional requirements across the whole site. By separating the gym from the aquatic centre and splitting the indoor and outdoor pools, we were able to dramatically increase the freedom and flexibility of the site and its arrangement.

The final design choice was to actively express the required stormwater easement and create a landscaped ‘urban stream’. Working with Scape Design, we proposed a series of wildflower islands along the stream to filter incoming stormwater and provide habitat for native flora and fauna.  Designed as a line of attraction, rather than a divide between pool and park, local residents were encouraged to explore the gentle banks or sit to watch the neighbouring sports field.

We believe our proposal to be a very strong and considered response to the brief, reflecting some creative solutions to a very dictating site and set of spatial requirements. Whilst unsuccessful, we are satisfied in the knowledge that our proposal was unique amongst the entries in its spatial approach. A printable version of the full submission can be downloaded hereThe five shortlisted entries can also be viewed on the City of Sydney website here.

Let us know what you think

printable version printable version




bokor architecture + interiors

julius bokor

tom rubenach

richard storey

scape design

georg petzold


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