Gunyama Falls. Green Square aquatic centre international competition. 2014.

This is our entry to the Green Square Park and Aquatic Centre design competition. I collaborated with Architect Milos Obradovic and Landscape Architect Tamara Obradovic. Building on Milos' concept we began to work out the details and I created these images for presentation. Below is our design statement.


The park and aquatic centre create an oasis, freshening and humanising the dry polluted part of Sydney. Like the gardens of Babylon, The Aquatic Centre or ‘Gunyama Falls’ generates a microclimate in the park outside and an energy efficient rainforest climate inside. Waterfall walls temper the climate, generating a mist that both cools the immediate environment and creates a rainforest habitat both inside and adjacent to the building. It also cools the building in summer and keeps the heat in the glasshouse in winter.

The landscape extends into the water cube, where a Henry Thoreau dream comes true, weaving an atmosphere of a roman grotto or Turkish baths. The lower level of the centre is synonymous with naturally occurring depressions in sandstone where water and rainforest are found and where people find respite in harsh, dry environments.

The ecosystems in the park extend in symbiosis with the rainforest inside The Falls, as does The Billabong, The Beach accessed from inside the aquatic centre, The Paperbark Forest, The Rapids, The Creek, The Wetland, The River Flats, The Open Woodland and The Hills which serve as shaded vantage points and spectator slopes for the field and Olympic pool. The system has been devised to purify storm water entering the site from the South. It also taps the aquifer below to filter and clean its water and distribute it to the pools in the Aquatic Centre before returning some of it. The system also functions as on site water detention. Hydroelectric turbines under the waterfall drive a water distribution mechanism which takes the water up special capillaries in the glass cavity of the building to the top of the waterfall where the cycle starts again.

The recreation programs are defined by meanders of the central creek weaving through the site. The programs open out towards Zetland Avenue, activating the street frontage with flexible urban spaces. The mounded East and South frontages are set back integrating playful skate and urban elements. Brolgas, cockatoos and black swans gather in the wetlands and bio-filtration ponds to observe the human spectacle of the surrounding physical activity hub and visitors of all ages gather by the natural pools under the shade of the paperbark trees to cool off, exercise or socialise.


Site Plan Key

  1. Skate Street Skate elements and urban furniture are integrated into the mound and extended footpath to create an active and playful edge
  2. The Hill A spectator mound sheltering central park from prevailing winds and providing a shady vantage point for the park
  3. The Pond An animal refuge providing essential wildlife habitat re-instating natural ecology
  4. The Ampitheatre Set into the mound people can gather to view the spectacle in the park or organised staged events on the green below

  5. The Urban Bushwalk The central spine  linking north to south - a shared pedestrian, cycle skate path  linking the main program areas and public art installations.
  6. The Rapids The source of the water for the site extracted directly from the aquifer and UV treated and oxygenated through a theatrical display across a series of cascading rock formations
  7. The Beach A gently sloping sandy beach for sunbathing by the natural pools
  8. The Forest A mounded forested zone provides a shady respite for relaxation
  9. The Sportsfield A multipurpose synthetic field with field amenities
  10. Active Zone A busy activity hub combining a mounded skate area, half court and circuit training
  11. Kids Play Zone District playground integrating water play with interactive smart technology and educational tools
  12. The Creek A meandering wetland and detention and filtration system, the life blood of the parks eco-system
  13. The Entry A large open plaza with outdoor café seating for community gathering and sculptural water play 
  14. On-site Parking Access to underground parking
  15. Games Area A flexible multi-purpose games area which can change and evolve
  16. The Billabong A series of natural pools adjoining the leisure pool, nestled into the native bushland
  17. The River Flat A large passive parkland - a place to run around with the dogs, have a picnic with friends or get fit on the excersise stations that look out over the wetlands
  18. The Waterfall The aquatic centre; jewel of the park; offers a cool respite in summer and a warm escape in the glasshouse in winter