Concept unveiled for new Sydney icon

14 November 2018
  • 3XN
  • 3XN
  • 3XN



3XN to create largest fish market in the Southern hemisphere

The Premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, has unveiled designs for the new Sydney fish market, planned as the first step in an ambitious plan to revitalise the city’s Blackwattle Bay. The building, designed by Danish architecture firm 3XN in collaboration with local architect BVN, GXN Innovation, and landscape architect Aspect Studios, will operate as a working market while acting as a major cultural amenity connecting the public with the area at the water’s edge. 

The concept for the new structure had to build on the reputation of the current market as one of Sydney’s most significant destinations. Herforth Nielsen, Founding Partner of contest winners 3XN, explained: “This building will be many things when it is done: a working fish market, an amenity for the city, a cultural destination, an urban connector, and an inspiring icon along the world-renowned Sydney Harbour. The natural value of the water’s edge should not be underestimated and should be accessible to everyone.”

The designers were inspired by the traditional market archetype, generally consisting of open to the air stalls in a large plaza, covered by a canopy. According to Nielsen, this design “is the social hub of cities around the world, and we want this one to be as important an icon for Sydney.” However, there was a problem to overcome in order to make the area publically accessible, as wholesale fish markets are usually closed to the public due to the risks posed by industrial processes. 3XN created amphitheatre staircases and a foreshore promenade to wrap over the operational activities on the ground floor, giving visitors a chance to see the working market from a safe distance. The staircases are a continuation of the surrounding landscape, where people can sit and enjoy their surroundings, while plazas at either end of the market allow for informal gatherings. 

The design goals included a significant reduction in energy, water consumption and waste when compared to the existing market. An example of this approach can be found in the strikingly-shaped roof, which harvests rainwater and minimises the use for conditioned air. Nielsen stated: “Environmental and social sustainability are essential and inseparable parts of the design.” 

The market will break ground in mid-2019 and is expected to open in 2023, subject to the necessary approvals.

Lucy Nordberg
TenderStream Head of Research

This competition was first published on 09.11.2016 by TenderStream here

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