Sydney’s most sustainable and largest swimming pool since the 2000 Olympics opens in Green Square

The sustainable and state-of-the-art Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Center opened last week as a recreation center in Sydney’s fastest growing urban area – the high-density neighborhood of Green Square.

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

The aquatic center and surrounding sports fields will be the recreation center of the new neighborhood and have been designed to accommodate population growth. It’s a 10-minute walk from Green Square Station, and most visitors are expected to use public transport, or walk or cycle to the center.

Sydney City’s $ 106.5 million facility features a 50m swimming pool set in recreation areas inspired by Sydney Ocean Pools, a 25m swimming pool with the world’s third largest movable pool floor , a water play area for children, a hydrotherapy pool, a gym, a nursery, a café and a sports field.

Budget beaten

There has been some controversy in the tabloid press about the budget for this recreation facility. The actual budget adopted by the council was just under $ 103 million, although the tabloids mistook this figure for the original budget for the 2014 architects’ competition, which did not include a finalized scope, remediation or earthworks.

“The council approved the project budget of almost $ 103 million in 2017 to provide the best possible facilities for the community,” said a spokesperson for the City of Sydney.

“This came after the scope of the project was finalized, including the number of swimming pools, the size and function of the gym and other facilities, the sports field and the park. The Council’s decision also followed the tendering process for design and construction.

“The final cost of the center, including the swimming pools, gymnasium and multi-purpose sports field, is $ 106.5 million. The additional cost was due to additional site remediation, installation of more reliable and environmentally friendly energy systems, and delays due to covid-19. “

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

Durability characteristics

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

The building uses a combination of rooftop solar panels and cogeneration systems to generate electricity for center and park operations. The thermal by-product of the cogeneration system is used to heat the swimming pool water. The excess electricity will power neighboring buildings in the community and cultural district of Green Square.

Water from the Green Square Urban Water Recycling Center is used for flushing toilets and irrigating the surrounding park. Earth berms made from excavated material surround the aquatic center to insulate internal spaces during Sydney’s hot summers.

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

The pools have accessible entry options, including ramps and freight elevators, and changing rooms and toilets for people with disabilities. Suitable fitness equipment is also available. The facility is the first aquatic center in NSW to have fully accredited toilets for changing places and having an access key in place.


The Gunyama Park Aquatic and Leisure Center includes: a 50m heated outdoor swimming pool located in a larger pool; a 25m heated indoor pool with a movable bottom to change the pool depth for a range of programs – from water polo to children’s swimming lessons; a fun water play area for kids with a shallow pool, slides, spray devices, and a tipping bucket; an indoor hydrotherapy pool; a gym, fitness studios, consultation rooms, and an outdoor yoga terrace; a nursery with an indoor play area; A coffee; two small meeting rooms available for hire; a large multipurpose synthetic sports field; an outdoor fitness area; a bronze Bangala sculpture by Aboriginal elder Aunt Julie Freeman and artist Jonathan Jones.

The Aquatic Center was designed by Andrew Burges Architects and Grimshaw with landscape architects Taylor Cullity Lethlean. The concept was chosen from over 140 other entries in an anonymous design competition hosted by the City of Sydney.

CPB Contractors built the new center following an extensive tendering process. Construction started in 2018. Belgravia Leisure will operate the new facility.

The name Gunyama translates to “southwest wind” in the local Dharug language and refers to the strong southerly winds that blow over the area.

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

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

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