Parramatta Aquatic Centre a timely addition to Sydney’s geographical heart

Parramatta Aquatic Centre a timely addition to Sydney’s geographical heart

The Parramatta Aquatic Centre (PAC) combines quality outdoor space and recreational amenity in an immersive leisure experience and was opened to an eagerly awaiting public on Monday, 25 September 2023. The new centre sits seamlessly within Parramatta Park’s lush surrounds, a humble addition to the community centred around the pleasures of swimming within a park setting.

Design was led by Grimshaw, Andrew Burges Architects, and McGregor Coxall, who were announced as the winners of an international design excellence competition for the project in 2018, with construction by Lipman.

Located on the traditional lands of the Burramattagal, an inland group of the Dharug people, the centre features a 10-lane, 50-metre outdoor pool encircled by a distinctive ring-form along with a 25-metre indoor pool, learn-to-swim facilities, spa and sauna facilities, cafe, fitness centre, and bicycle and parking facilities.

City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Cr Sameer Pandey said: “Parramatta Aquatic Centre has been thoughtfully designed with the community in mind. The architects have done a wonderful job creating a space where the people of Parramatta, and greater Sydney, can enjoy for generations to come. This is more than just a pool – it’s a place where the community can swim laps in the pool, work out in the gym, relax in the spa, steam and sauna or simply enjoy a coffee in the cafe. A lot of memories will be made here – of local kids swimming their first lap, of families splashing around together on a long, hot summer day. I can’t wait to open the doors, I think the community will be really impressed when they see and experience Parramatta Aquatic Centre.” McGregor Coxall’s landscape design celebrates the natural characteristics of UNESCO World Heritage Listed Parramatta Park, embedding the ringed structure within its topography. Shaped by the site’s rich historical layers, including its role as a gathering place, a place of agriculture, and a place of prospect over the city, design seeks to expand the inclusiveness and community appeal of the centre as a civic asset for generations to come.

The outdoor pool, named the Memorial Pool in recognition of the former Parramatta War Memorial Swimming Centre, is complemented by two linear pathways that form the spine of the site. A series of interconnected bike and walking paths unite plaza spaces and parklands to link the centre with Parramatta CBD.

Plantings are strategically incorporated with seating and gathering spaces wherever possible to increase shading and moderate the temperature of the ground. Design maximizes the benefit of every drop of rain, adopting rain gardens and additional water-sensitive urban design features to hold treat stormwater for reuse. Energy savings are ensured by 358 rooftop solar panels, while natural ventilation reduces air-conditioning need, and skylights filter harmful UV, provide natural light, and maintain temperature.

In an area experiencing surging growth, design for the new centre embodies an integrated approach to landscape, architecture, and placemaking. The new centre extends the surrounding Parramatta Park and forms connections between Parramatta and Cumberland Councils. With more than a million visitors expected to use this facility each year, PAC will be a year-round destination for the people of Parramatta and beyond.

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