Green Square’s ecological engine

Green Square’s ecological engine

Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore has unveiled ‘The Drying Green’ at Green Square — the world’s first ‘ecological engine’.

The 6,200m2 urban park is located on Gadigal Country at the heart of Green Square’s urban regeneration zone, planned to have the highest population density in Australia. The Drying Green is the centrepiece of a network of new public green spaces servicing the growing community, a new public backyard for Green Square that functions as a high-performance open space for locals and visitors.

The design, led by global interdisciplinary design studio McGregor Coxall, delivers the world’s first ecological engine – an innovative urban wetland that harnesses green-and-blue living infrastructure to clean stormwater drawn from a concrete channel deep beneath the site, the former Sheas Creek. Daily, one-third of an Olympic pool (approximately 875KL) of polluted water is cycled through the wetland and returned clean to Alexandria Canal and the harbour downstream.“

Beginning in 2006, we worked with the City of Sydney to deliver Australia’s most technologically advanced park,” said McGregor Coxall’s Chief Design Officer and the project’s lead designer, Adrian McGregor.

In pre-European times the site was an ecologically significant wetland made up of sandy Botany swamps. Over the past hundred years, heavy industries that relied upon fresh water were attracted to the area and eventually, the land was filled. As fell-mongering works and car industries departed, the area was left contaminated. With clean up now complete, The Drying Green is already attracting a return of wildlife to Green Square with birds and insects foraging in the new wetlands.“

The Drying Green repairs and regenerates this lost ecological connection,” said McGregor.Utilising the principles of origami, the park design delivers sculpted lawns, folded gardens, and public amenities set in a forest of native trees. Angular berms utilise green façade technology to provide visual and acoustic separation from busy surrounding streets to the inner park. The park features a large, inclined lawn raised to capture maximum winter capture sun and is linked to a large BBQ pavilion for summer shade. The southern urban edge of the park features stepped precast concrete seats forming an urban space overlooking the adjacent Green Square library. Technology concealed within the origami green structure houses the ecological engine infrastructure. “

A hidden electrical substation concealed within the sculptural amenities building (designed by CHROFI Architects) powers the library and plaza, connected by electrical infrastructure within The Drying Green’s berms,” said McGregor. “Energy amenities complement a comprehensive underground water management system that irrigates the berms and lawns from below, also cleaning dirty water that washes downhill from Sydney’s CBD.” Construction was extremely complex and the attention to detail delivered by (Constructors) Regal Innovations ensures a streamlined, hi-tech management system for the park now and into the future.Photovoltaic energy is also received from the park shelter, designed by McGregor Coxall, before feeding back into the site’s grid, creating the energy required for maintaining the artwork installation – ‘Stream’ – by contemporary Australian artist, Kerri Poliness.The site location and urban framework were determined by the Green Square Town Centre Masterplan international design competition won by McGregor Coxall + Turner + Arets in 2006.

‘The Drying Green’ name pays homage to a time where the site was used primarily to wash and dry wool.The park opened to the public on Saturday 15 October.

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