Aquatics and Commercial

City of Sydney’s most sustainable and largest pool since the 2000 Olympics opens at Green Square

February 9, 2021

The state-of-the art sustainable Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre opened last week as the recreational focus of the fastest growing urban area in Sydney – the Green Square high density precinct.

It is part of a 278-hectare urban renewal project to replace the former industrial zones of Zetland, Beaconsfield, Rosebery, Alexandria and Waterloo with high density housing for as many as 62,000 residents. When completed in 2031, it will be one of the highest density residential areas in Australia.

The aquatic centre and surrounding sports fields will be the recreational focus of the new precinct, and have been designed to take the growing population into account. It is located a 10-minute walk from the Green Square train station and the expectation is most visitors will use public transport, or walk or cycle to the centre.

The $106.5 million City of Sydney facility features a 50m pool set within recreation areas inspired by Sydney’s ocean pools, a 25m pool with the third largest moveable pool floor in the world, a kids’ water playground, hydrotherapy pool, gym, creche, café and sports field.

Budget beat up

There has been some controversy in the tabloid press about the budget for this recreation facility. The actual budget passed by the council was just under $103 million, although the tabloid media had been confusing that figure with the architects’ initial competition budget from 2014, which did not include a finalised scope, remediation or earthworks.

“Council endorsed the project budget of almost $103m in 2017 to deliver the best possible facility for the community,” says a City of Sydney spokesperson.

“This came after the scope of the project was finalised, including the number of pools, and size and function of the gym and other facilities, sports field and park. The Council decision also followed the design and construction tender process.

“The final cost of the centre, including the pools, gym and multi-purpose sports field, is $106.5m. The additional cost was due to extra remediation of the site, installation of more reliable and environmentally-friendly energy systems, and delays due to covid-19.”

Gunyama boasts state-of-the-art sustainability, including a a combination of rooftop solar panels and cogeneration systems and an ETFE roof. Photo credit: Brett Boardman Photography

Sustainability features

Design features, including waste, water and energy initiatives, have contributed to the centre’s 5-star rating under the Green Building Council of Australia design rating scale.

The building uses a combination of rooftop solar panels and cogeneration systems to produce electricity for the centre and park operations. The heat by-product of the cogeneration system is used for warming the pool water. Surplus electricity will power neighbouring buildings in the Green Square community and cultural precinct.

Water from the Green Square urban water recycling centre is used for toilet flushing and irrigating the surrounding parkland. Earth berms made from excavated material surround the aquatic centre to provide insulation for internal spaces during warm Sydney summers.

The aquatic centre’s timber and ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) roof adds to the building’s sustainability rating by reducing the building’s reliance on artificial lighting.

The pools have accessible entry options including ramps and hoists and changing and toilet facilities for people with disability. Specialty accessible fitness equipment is also available. The facility is the first aquatic centre in New South Wales to have a fully accredited Changing Places toilet and to implement an Access Key.


Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre features: a 50m heated outdoor pool set within a larger pool; a 25m heated indoor pool with a moveable floor to change the pool’s depth for a range of programming – from water polo to children’s swimming lessons; a fun kids’ waterplay area with a shallow pool, slides, spraying devices and a tipping bucket; an indoor hydrotherapy pool; a gym, fitness studios, consultation rooms and outdoor yoga deck; a creche with indoor play area; a café; two small meeting rooms available for hire; an expansive multipurpose synthetic sports field; an outdoor fitness area; a bronze sculpture Bangala by Aboriginal Elder Aunty Julie Freeman and artist Jonathan Jones.

The aquatic centre was designed by Andrew Burges Architects and Grimshaw with landscape architects Taylor Cullity Lethlean. The concept was chosen from more than 140 other entries in an anonymous design competition run by the City of Sydney.

CPB Contractors built the new centre following an extensive competitive tender process. Construction began in 2018. Belgravia Leisure will operate the new facility.

The name Gunyama translates to “wind from the south-west” in the local Dharug language and refers to the strong southerlies that blow through the area.

There will be a more detailed story on this pool in the April/May edition of SPLASH! (Issue 135).

MAIN IMAGE: The 50 metre outdoor pool at Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre. Photo credit: Chris Southwood City of Sydney


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