Construction on Parramatta’s new Aquatic and Leisure Centre is officially underway, marked by City of Parramatta Council at a sod turning ceremony held on 30 March.

The $88.6 million centre was designed in collaboration with Grimshaw and Andrew Burges Architects, announced as the winner of an international design excellence competition for the project in 2018.

The project site is located on the traditional lands of the Burramattagal, an inland group of the Darug people.

Integrated in the Mays Hill Precinct of the heritage listed Parramatta Park, the centre will feature a 10-lane, 50-metre outdoor pool encircled by a distinctive ring-form, along with a 25-metre indoor pool, learn-to-swim facilities, cafe, and fitness, bicycle, and parking facilities.

Associate Director and Landscape Architecture Discipline Lead at McGregor Coxall’s Sydney Studio, Matt Ritson, says the Centre offers a contemporary community hub for wellbeing, leisure, and relaxation.

“An integrated approach to landscape, architecture and environment underpin the placemaking design,” said Ritson. “The design maximises the benefit of every drop of rain, utilising raingardens to define and enhancing key entry points while creating shaded, cooled microclimates and mitigating urban heat impacts.

“Incorporating native plantings, open lawns, landscaped berms and functional raingardens, a series of interconnected bike and walking paths unite plaza spaces and parklands with key site functions. Shade is considered paramount to influence the site’s microclimate; tree plantings are incorporated with seating and gathering spaces wherever possible.

“Locally native tree plantings are proposed across the site to enhance the existing urban forest while Cumberland Plain Woodland understory shrubs, grasses and groundcovers are proposed to vastly improve the precinct’s habitat and biodiversity values.

Bound by Park Parade, Pitt Street, Parramatta High School and the T1 Western Line Rail Corridor, the site’s design promotes clarity and connection between the landscape and built form.

“The circular form of the main pool space is complemented by two linear pathways that form the backbone of the site layout,” said Ritson. “These pathways unite walking and bicycle connections to, from and around the site, connecting the CBD-facing park, entry plaza, pool space, ring walk, and verandah.”

Construction is anticipated to be completed in early 2023.

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