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Paddington, NSW, 2009
on Gadigal land

Landscape Architects: JMD design
Architects: Tonkin Zulaikha Greer
Client: City of Sydney

Change: inserting a garden retreat into a subterranean post-industrial site

The ruins of a mid-nineteenth-century water reservoir provided the opportunity to insert a sunken garden into a busy inner Sydney suburb. For years the reservoir had been fenced off to protect the public from unsafe structures. Sensitive to the mysterious character of the ruin, the design approach is minimal. Strategically placed staircases lead visitors into the brick-edged voids which were never designed for human occupation. Circulation is restricted to along the outer walls, leaving the central space for a lawn, reflecting pool, and Victorian-inspired courtyard garden. A mix of eucalyptus, tree ferns and exotic plants suggest different temporal layers, heightened by the inclusion of an ancient Wollemi pine, while the upper level provides a multi-functional lawn. Parts of the site remain as closed vaulted space available for events and performances. A space of otherworldliness, the design is a rare example of a civic garden conceived without any cafes or programs to disrupt its restorative qualities.

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