Cockle Bay Park, Sydney
Henning Larsen designs a towering new waterfront scheme
Cockle Bay Park links Sydney’s Central Business District to the waterfront at Darling Harbour, covering an area over the Western Distributor freeway that currently acts as a barrier between the city centre, the waterfront, and the thriving Pyrmont district. The “ground” level in fact comprises multiple elements; an expansive, state-of-the-art retail program sits alongside and is woven into an expansive public park that stretches from the elevated main level to the waterfront below. Wide pedestrian paths frame a continuous public path through the development, and serve as the link between the shops, restaurants, and bars on site. The 73,000 sqm project, which includes 63,000 sqm of tower programme atop a 10,000 sqm public plinth, is co-led by The GPT Group and AMP Capital.
Cockle Bay Park focuses on the eye-level experience of the development’s two scales: the city scale, where the tower joins the skyline, and the village scale, where people move between the city centre and the waterfront. Cockle Bay Park’s unbroken silhouette slips seamlessly among the towers of Sydney’s CBD, breaking down into more human-scaled pieces as it reaches the public and retail spaces at the ground level.
The tower, which is threaded together by public space, defines a new type of high-rise development that mixes traditional retail, office, and public program into a unified, human-centered environment. The ground-level comprises 10,000 sqm of park space, the most expansive addition of public space central Sydney has seen in a century. Cockle Bay Park is a microcosm of the Sydney itself, a city unique in its ability to entwine a friendly, local community atmosphere within a cosmopolitan city.
Darling Harbour is already an ideal site in many respects; its proximity to central Sydney and the Pyrmont pedestrian bridge makes Cockle Bay Park an extraordinarily prominent waterfront district. The design amplifies the strongest elements of the harbour by connecting to existing pedestrian opportunities, while also building up dense layers of amenities and greenery. Currently an under-utilised and low-lying commercial strip with the backdrop of Sydney’s soaring skyline, Cockle Bay Park will bring a significant increase of densification and park space across the Western Distributor.
Cockle Bay Park delivers a unique solution for the project by introducing a human-centric design for the podium, incorporating an elevated outdoor street that cuts its way through the podium and boasting spectacular views to the water at every turn. It is also partly sheltered from the prevailing wind, with just enough breeze coming off the water to make it an ideal spot in the summer. Energy and climate modelling allowed for optimisation of the microclimate in and around the development. This research allows the project to make good on its commitment to the public realm. Cockle Bay Park offers an opportunity to set a precedent for people-focused design in an increasingly densifying world.
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