Walter Burley Griffin Award 2021 for Urban Design

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Jury quote

Adaptive reuse of the HMAS Platypus district in Sydney is a profound and exemplary urban transformation. The re-imagining of this historically layered and topographically complex Sydney foreshore site, which faces Neutral Harbor and sits at the eastern end of the established Kirribilli neighborhood, was a collaborative project for the architect, l landscape architect and their client, the Harbor Trust. Established as the Sydney Harbor Federation Trust by the Australian government in 2001, the Harbor Trust is the custodian of a series of former Department of Defense and Commonwealth assets with the aim of improving public accessibility through the conservation, remediation and adaptive reuse of these important sites.

At the Platypus Subbase, the approach to adaptive reuse of the remaining industrial and military structures is bold and curious. The detailed repair, removal and upgrade work is underpinned by a porous and legible urban layout that facilitates public access to an area of ​​Sydney’s foreshore that was closed to the public for over 150 years. The site, located on the lands of the Cammeraygal people, was previously used as a torpedo factory, submarine base, and gas plant. From 1967 to 1999, it was the Royal Australian Navy’s base for six Oberon-class submarines.

There is a significant level change from the Kirribilli suburban fringe to the waterfront; this journey is carefully choreographed by sturdy fixed elements that ensure universal access and clear direction. Under the direction of the Trust, extensive remediation work and extensive community consultation was undertaken at HMAS Platypus. The scenic location is now coming to life as a new community and commercial hub, with the waterfront park and boardwalks creating an attractive new destination linked to active mobility and public transportation networks.

Project credits

Project managers: Lahznimmo Architects and Aspect Studios; Group project: Andrew Nimmo, Hugo Cottier, Jemima Manton, Stephanie Gotis-Graham, Ben Gore, Sacha Coles, Kate Luckraft, Louise Pearson, Lauren Nissen, Lachlan Bellach, Dean Coulson, Alex Woodside; Manufacturer: Haslin constructions; Project Manager: Harbor Trust; Structural engineer: SDA structures; Service Advisor: Northrop consulting engineers; Orientation: Urban and Public.

Sub Base Platypus of Lahznimmo Architects and Aspect Studios is located in North Sydney, New South Wales, on the lands of the Cammeraygal people.

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