Darling Harbour Transformation


The Darling Harbour Transformation is Sydney’s most significant urban renewal initiative in 20 years. Working with Infrastructure NSW and Lendlease, Hassell developed the urban design framework for the 20-hectare urban revitalisation that accommodates the International Convention Centre Sydney (by Hassell + Populous), set within an engaging and connected public realm.

view website
view twitter

  • MORE
  • Public benefit was at the heart of our design process for delivering our clients’ vision of: “an outstanding convention, exhibition and entertainment precinct offering a distinctly ‘Sydney’ experience.” This involved a high-quality, open and flexible public realm that allows for the greatest variety of both casual uses and organised events to inspire repeat visits. A place with diverse spaces that enrich the experience of international and local visitors, while improving accessibility and public amenity.

  • The transformation’s overarching urban design principles ensured that the precinct knits the city together through its activation, scale and density. They included: _Unifying the precinct through a clear north-south pedestrian boulevard _Sensitive integration and alignment with the existing urban fabric _Improving the east-west connections to the city and surrounding neighbourhoods _Creating new urban fabric in neighbouring Haymarket, with business and residential areas _Expanding Tumbalong Park to enhance events capacity _Re-establishing the natural environment _Diversification of public experiences through spaces and features that enable activation, and _Enriching the individual identities of the three venues by connecting them with the public realm.

  • The revitalised Darling Harbour now ‘wows’ first-time visitors and delights those who use the space the most – the local community of workers and residents – and keeps them coming back. By reinvigorating parklands, integrating landscapes and incorporating water features, public artworks, plazas and event spaces, we’ve created opportunities for activities as varied as open-air concerts, circus events, art appreciation, market stalls and busking – and simple pleasures like splashing in shallow pools. Improved pedestrian, cycle and public transport connections now also make it easier for people to access this precinct, its previously disconnected immediate neighbourhoods, the harbour and Sydney’s city centre.

  • By creating more inclusive and engaging public places and improving existing amenity, Darling Harbour’s appeal has increased for locals and visitors alike – generating ongoing social, economic and environmental benefits for Sydney through: _An active events destination with three major public venues and the Tumbalong Park event space _A connected precinct with an enhanced network of lanes and streets, including The Boulevard _More diverse public experiences in engaging new urban spaces, such as Chinese Garden Plaza _A greener harbour with 650 new trees and 9,000sqm of additional green space _A distinctly ‘Sydney’ experience. The stories of Darling Harbour come alive through a wide range of curated artworks and interpretative landscape elements, inspired by the site’s history and ecology. Sculptures and audio-visual installations, including a 600sqm mural of indigenous flora embedded in the walls of a terraced landscape, provide interpretation and intrigue. Active water fountains, including the renovated ‘Tidal Cascades’ Robert Woodward fountain, celebrate the unique waterfront location. The ICC Sydney venues also take inspiration from the site’s spectacular city and harbour surrounds. They’re designed to create a cohesive overall neighbourhood, while at the same time giving each building and surrounding landscape its own personality and unique architectural character to create diversity.