Barangaroo Reserve

Honor Award

General Design

Sydney, Australia
PWP Landscape Architecture
Client: Barangaroo Redevelopment Agency

"Barangaroo Reserve is a stunning revival of Sydney Harbor’s historic headland that rebuilds a long-lost connection to the pre-colonial past while creating an active, naturalistic, environmentally sensitive civic space, serving both people and animals, on the land and in the water. The design of the headland includes a dramatic foreshore of 10,000 sandstone blocks excavated directly from the site, an elegant and dramatic way of bringing back a landform important to the original Aboriginal culture and a major element in the project’s compliance with One Planet Living principles. Pathways, lawns, an underground public space, and complex plantings of native trees and shrubs, turn what was once a degraded industrial site into model of civic space, cultural sensitivity, and sustainability."

- 2019 Awards Jury

Project Credits

  • General Contractor: Lend Lease (formerly Baulderstone Pty Ltd), Sydney, Australia Quarry Operation and Chief Stone Mason: Troy Stratti
  • Horticulturalist: Stuart Pittendrigh Project Management: Advisian Pty Ltd
  • Architect: WMK
  • Soils Engineer: Simon Leake, SESL Australia
  • Construction Observation: Tract Landscape Architects
  • Civil and Structural Engineers: Robert Bird Group and Aurecon
  • Hydraulic Engineer: Warren Smith and Partners
  • Construction Management: Evans and Peck
  • Marine Engineer: Hyder Consulting
  • Geotechnical Engineer: Douglas Partners
  • Traffic Engineer: Halcrow
  • Lighting Engineer: Webb Australia Group
  • Wayfinding and Signage: Emery Studio
  • Historic Interpretation: Judith Rintoul
  • History and Arts: Peter Emmett
  • Landscape Contractor: Regal Inovations
  • Plant Procurement Nursery: Andreasens Green

Project Statement

Named for an influential Aboriginal woman of pre-colonial Sydney, Barangaroo is a globally-significant, 22-hectare waterfront renewal project that redefines Sydney Harbor. Barangaroo Reserve was the first phase in a 3-district master plan. The project re-created a "Club Cape" headland by transforming a concrete container port into a park with over 75,000 plantings native to the region. Guided by historical maps and paintings, the design of the headland includes a foreshore of 10,000 sandstone blocks excavated directly from the site. Walking and bicycle pathways separated by the "1836 Wall" symbolically mark the original precolonial shoreline. A "One Planet Living" project, Barangaroo Reserve reused and recycled all existing materials onsite for the headland. Hidden beneath the new headland, the Cutaway is a massive void formed through sandstone excavation to host art exhibits, performances, or a future Aboriginal Cultural Center. Barangaroo Reserve transforms a huge expanse of empty concrete into usable space for both people and animals on land and in water, marking the transformation of an industrial site into a modern reinvention of its more sustainable past.

Project Narrative

Named for an influential Aboriginal woman of pre-colonial Sydney, Barangaroo is a globally-significant, 22-hectare waterfront renewal project that redefines Sydney Harbor. Barangaroo Reserve was the first phase in a 3-district waterfront master plan. The project re-created a "Club Cape" headland by transforming a concrete container port into a park with over 75,000 plantings native to the region. Guided by historical maps and paintings, the design of the headland includes a foreshore of 10,000 sandstone blocks excavated directly from the site. Walking and bicycle pathways separated by the "1836 Wall" symbolically mark the original precolonial shoreline.

Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century much of the Sydney Harbour's foreshore was filled in to create space for maritime industrialization. Lying directly west of the Central Business District and The Rocks (Sydney's oldest neighborhood), Barangaroo is made up of three areas: Barangaroo South, a 7.5-hectare mix of office and residential development; Barangaroo Central, a 5.7-hectare mixed-use/open space; and Barangaroo Reserve, a 6-hectare re-creation of a historic headland. Barangaroo Reserve completes the northern face of Sydney, a stunning landscape of points including the Royal Botanic Gardens, Bennelong Point and the Sydney Opera House, Dawes Point and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Barangaroo also restores the visual and symbolic geography of the islands and headlands that were home to the indigenous people of the Eora Nation at the time of European arrival.

Design guidelines completed by the landscape architect define the vocabulary for the public domain and its connections to Sydney's CBD and several adjacent historic neighborhoods. This shared vocabulary serves to unite three areas with very different programs. Pedestrian routes, dedicated bicycle paths, a new ferry terminal, and a new metro station will increase accessibility between the areas and to other parts of the city. At the edge of Sydney Harbour, Wulugul Walk—developed with a unified vocabulary of sandstone, timber boardwalks, site furniture, and tree canopies—will complete the 14-kilometer Sydney Harbour Walk, an uninterrupted path from Woolloomooloo to the Anzac Bridge passing by landmarks such as the Botanic Garden, the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, Walsh Bay, Darling Harbour, and the ANZAC and Iron Cove bridges.

At Barangaroo Reserve a "Club Cape" headland was conceived and realized through close collaboration of specialists working with the lead designers, including a local stone mason, soils scientist, engineer, and horticulturalist, each cherished in his field. The design team was guided by geomorphologic studies as well as historical maps and early depictions including Major Taylor's 1817 panoramic views of Sydney. The chief stone mason was in charge of an on-site quarry operation, creating the foreshore with the artful installation of 10,000 large sandstone blocks—the foundation of Sydney Harbour—excavated from the middle of the site. The complicated design required a customized software modeling program and GPS technology, setting a new global benchmark for naturalistic construction; cut from the ancient rock, each block was barcoded and tracked using a smartphone application. The materials removed from the existing site during the quarry operations and the reshaping of the container port and Nawi Cove were ground up for base-fill layers and creation of the headland. The soils scientist developed a blended soil recipe from the crushed and washed stone waste that maximized the growth of a native bush planting scheme. The plantings are native, not just to Australia but specifically to the Sydney area. Plant material was pre-grown for 2 years on Mangrove Mountain, two hours north of Sydney.

Pedestrian and bicycle pathways wind along the headland, separated by a low, sandstone wall that is a symbolic marker of the original pre-colonial shoreline. The rusticated stone masonry of the "1836 Wall" evokes the first colonial sandstone constructions of Sydney – a material and finish that is ubiquitous throughout the city. An accessible main walkway moves gently up the north slope from Wulugul Walk, terminating at the Stargazer Lawn, the highest point of the headland, which is shaded by large Morton Bay fig trees and eucalyptus. Bush planting discretely conceals the elevator that serves the underground spaces created by the excavation of the sandstone blocks: a 300-car garage and the Cutaway, a large community room—50 by 150 meters—that recalls indigenous cave dwellings and serves as an event space and future cultural center.

Ecological methods were key in restoring this huge expanse of empty concrete into humane, naturalistic, usable space for both people and animals, on land and in the water. The most complex ecological system established as part of the park is the bush, which consists of three planting layers: 1) a ground-plane of plants such as Lomandra and Hardenbergia violacea, which are .5m-2m tall; 2) an understory of plants such as Acacia longifolia, and tree ferns that are up to 5m tall and give Barangaroo the distinctive shape of existing Sydney headlands; and 3) a canopy of trees such as Angophora costata, Eucalyptus pilularis, and Eucalyptus saligna, that are 10m-20m tall and create cathedral-like spaces above the bush planting layers. The plant palette in the bush facing Sydney Harbour receives greater sun exposure and differs from the more shaded and temperate portions facing south.

In order to achieve the goal of becoming the first climate positive precinct of its size in the world, all three districts of Barangaroo have followed sustainable principles in the planning and design process. Barangaroo has been selected as one of 17 developments worldwide to participate in the Clinton Climate Initiative Development Program, which supports large-scale urban projects that reduce on-site CO2 emissions to zero. The project exemplifies the ten One Planet Living principles that provide guidelines for sustainable development: Zero Carbon, Zero Waste, Sustainable Transport, Sustainable Materials, Local and Sustainable Foods, Sustainable Water, Land Use and Wildlife, Cultural and Community, Equity and Local Economy, and Health and Happiness. For example, the 10,000 blocks of sandstone that make up the foreshore edge were excavated from the site, thereby eliminating the transport of thousands of truck-loads of materials through the city. Other materials were locally sourced, and nearly 10,000 native plants were pre-grown locally. The foreshore was designed to create habitat for fish and other marine life and the park has been an immediate attractor for several native bird species.

One purpose for reconstructing the headland was to reestablish the symbolic geography that reminds us of Sydney's long pre-European indigenous past. At the time of European settlement Goat Island was occupied and owned by Barangaroo and her husband, Bennelong. The island lay at the center of a concentric ring of other Aboriginal locales including what is now called Ballast Point, Balls Head, McMahons Point, Millers Point, and the eastern tip of Balmain. The physical re-creation offered by Barangaroo Reserve fulfills a goal adopted in 2005 by the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority as part of a larger plan to showcase Aboriginal culture.

Barangaroo Reserve unites its concern for natural processes with cultural references. For example, the sandstone abundant in the project makes a historical reference to old Sydney, which developed on top of the stone and used it extensively as building material. Another example is the naming process for the park that was conducted by the Barangaroo Delivery Authority, working closely with key stakeholders including the City of Sydney, the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council, Lend Lease, and the New South Wales Geographical Names Board. Names reflect Aboriginal culture, prominent Sydneysiders, and the history of the local area, themes that were also popular in the 2006 public competition that produced the name "Barangaroo."


Product Sources: N/A

Plant List:


  • Allocasuarina littoralis (Black sheoak)
  • Angophora costata (Sydney red gum)
  • Banksia integrifolia (Coast Banksia)
  • Celtis australis (Mediterranean Hackberry)
  • Corymbia gummifera (Red bloodwood)
  • Corymbia maculate (Spotted gum)
  • Cupaniopsis anacardioides (Tuckeroo)
  • Eucalyptus haemastoma (Scribbly gum)
  • Eucalyptus pilularis (Blackbutt)
  • Eucalyptus piperita (Sydney peppermint)
  • Eucalyptus punctate (Grey gum)
  • Eucalyptus saligna (Sydney blue gum)
  • Eucalyptus tereticornis (Blue gum)
  • Ficus macrophylla (Moreton Bay fig)
  • Ficus rubiginosa (Port Jackson fig)
  • Livistona australis (Cabbage tree palm)
  • Platanus orientalis ‘Digitata’ (London Plane)


  • Acacia foribunda (White Sally wattle)
  • Acacia longifolia (Sallow wattle)
  • Acacia myrtifolia (Red-stemmed wattle)
  • Acacia terminalis (Sunshine wattle)
  • Acacia ulicifolia (Prickly Moses)
  • Acmena smithii (Lilly pilly)
  • Allocasuarina littoralis (Black she-oak)
  • Banksia marginata (Silver banksia)
  • Banksia robur (Swamp banksia)
  • Banksia serrata (Old man banksia)
  • Banksia spinulosa (Hairpin banksia)
  • Bauera rubioides (River rose)
  • Boronia ledifolia (Showy boronia)
  • Callicoma serratifolia (Black wattle)
  • Callistemon linearis (Narrow-leaved bottlebrush)
  • Ceratopetalum gummiferum (New South Wales Christmas bush)
  • Correa alba (White correa)
  • Correa refexa (Common correa)
  • Cyathea australis (Rough tree fern)
  • Dillwynia retorta (Heathy parrot pea)
  • Dodonaea triquetra (Large-leaf hop bush)
  • Doryanthes excelsa (Gymea lily)
  • Elaeocarpus reticulatus (Blueberry ash)
  • Eriostemon australasius (Pink wax fower)
  • Exocarpos cupressiformis (Cypress cherry)
  • Glochidion ferdinandi (Cheese tree)
  • Grevillea buxifolia (Grey spider fower)
  • Grevillea linearifolia (Linear-leaf grevillea)
  • Grevillea sericea (Pink spider fower)
  • Hakea dactyloides (Finger hakea)
  • Hakea teretifolia (Needlebush)
  • Hibiscus tiliaceus (Cottonwood hibiscus)
  • Isopogon anemonifolius (Broad-leaf drumsticks)
  • Lambertia formosa (Mountain devil)
  • Leptospermum juniperinum (Prickly teatree)
  • Macrozamia communis (Burrawang)
  • Melaleuca hypericifolia (Hillock bush)
  • Melaleuca nodosa (Prickly-leaved paperbark)
  • Notelaea longifolia (Large mock-olive)
  • Olearia tomentosa (Toothed daisy bush)
  • Omalanthus populifolius (Native bleeding heart)
  • Persoonia levis (Broad-leaved geebung)
  • Pittosporum spp. (Cheesewood)
  • Telopea speciosissima (Waratah)
  • Tristaniopsis laurina (Water gum)
  • Westringia fruticosa (Coastal rosemary)


  • Billardiera scandens (Apple berry)
  • Carpobrotus glaucescens (Pigface)
  • Davallia canariensis (Hare's Foot Fern)
  • Dianella caerulea (Blue flax-lily)
  • Dianella revolute (spreading Flax-lily)
  • Gleichenia dicarpa (Coral Fern)
  • Hardenbergia violacea (Native lilac)
  • Hibbertia scandens (Snake vine)
  • Isolepis nodosa (Knobby club rush)
  • Kennedia rubicunda (Dusky coral pea)
  • Lomandra longifolia (Mat rush)
  • Pandorea pandorana (Wonga Wonga vine)
  • Pyrrosia rupestris (Rock felt fern)
  • Sarcocrnia quinquefolia (Glasswort)
  • Tetragonla tetragonloldes (Botany Bay spinach)