Friday, September 24, 2010

Glebe Foreshore Walk/JMD Design

Rather than a single park, this project covers the Sydney Harbour foreshore walk along over 2km of the Glebe shoreline linking 4 parks, as well as smaller intermittent spaces. In doing so a number of strategies are utilised in dealing with the different existing conditions that arise of the length of the walk, and the varied interactions that occur with the water. The project was designed by JMD Design and was completed in November 2006.

Urban Context

The Glebe foreshore walk is located on the shoreline of Blackwattle Bay, a largely industrial bay of Sydney Harbour. The immediate context is small scale residential development, with the with commercial and industrial at either end of the foreshore walk. The walk is anticipated to be a part of the 17km long Sydney Harbour Foreshore promenade stretching from Woolloomooloo to Rozelle Bay once a number of other missing links are instituted including at Bank Street.

By and large the walk is separated from an immediate urban context, and the only twice does the path come into specific contact with architecture, being the historical Bellevue House located within the centre of Blackwattle Park. In the construction of the walk, existing vegetation was cleared between the house and the water re-establishing the links between the house and the harbour.

Natural Context

The Glebe Foreshore Walk responds to it's natural context with the various insertions, and additions being responsive to the natural conditions of the site, such as the provision of stairs to a natural sand deposit that is exposed at low tide, the provision of a mangrove habitat on existing mud flats and the integration of the many existing fig and other trees along the walk. The walk also consistently uses the natural context to mediate between the harbour and the residential environment with regular bio-swales that deal with stormwater from the local streets on its way to the harbour.

Movement and Connections

The movement along the Glebe Foreshore Walk is predominantly in a single linear path than forms the main promenade and defines the direction and connection of the various parks and locations to each other. This main path is set back from the existing sea wall in response to practical requirements by NSW Maritime but also as a means of displaying the sea wall as a historic and aesthetic object.

Secondary paths are then utilised, often with a material difference, to connect the main path to urban streets and access points, as well as the more intimate spaces created along to walk in response to the natural conditions.

Order and Objects

The main identifiable objects that the Glebe Foreshore Walk respond to and make use of are many of the existing conditions of the site both natural and urban, such as significant trees and coves, the existing sea wall and the historical Bellevue House. The main promenade meanders along the shoreline interacting with these objects when they come into contact,

Plane Manipulation

The ground plane of the path largely follows the existing topography of the site, being raised up slightly from the height of the existing sea wall. When the promenade opens out to a park it is often the lower point of a slope of varying degrees and treatments. The various treatments range from a gradual turfed slope, to retaining walls, to terraced gardens, to paved steps depending on the existing urban and natural context. At other points the promenade becomes the high point with secondary paths and stairs leading down to an intermediary platform or the water. By and large the manipulation of the ground plane is very subtle and influenced by the natural topography, where the linear journey is more predominant the the secondary vertical journeys.

Light, Colour, Texture

Variation of light is largely dependent on the trees within the locality. Unlike the other precedents which trees are new, the Glebe Foreshore Walk, makes use of many existing and mature trees some set back from the water front, others right alongside, allowing the promenade to experience changes in the light quality throughout the day.

Materials are kept to a minimal and subtle palate with the predominant introduced materials being pre-cast concrete (refer to colour and materials here) timber and some sandstone. The pre-cast concrete uses a quartz mixed sand in order to obtain a warmer colour and slight sparkle that relates well to existing sandstone and contrasting to the existing concrete.
A focus exists in revealing the nature of the existing materials of the site, such as the sandstone and the various types of concrete that have been used in the area over the years. The differing aggregates of the these old concretes make for differing characters and these differences are celebrated by remaining and being revealed.

Water Connections

Aside from the constant visual connection with the water that occurs with the promenade following the shoreline, the Glebe Foreshore Walk also capitalises on the natural context with the introduction of numerous and varying opportunities of further interaction with the water. These include a boat launching beach and pontoon, viewing platforms on the waters edge, access down to naturally occurring low tide beaches, occurrences of incidental seating.

It is important to recognise that some of these more deliberate water interactions are located on secondary paths,. Requiring a decision or purpose to engage with them physically, such that these interactions are afforded to the public not demanded of them. The promenade along the shore already offers an increase in dialogue with the water, and these further interactions offer the public the opportunity to take that one or many steps further.

Relevance to Bank Street Boat Park

The Glebe Foreshore Walk is relevant on two fronts. Firstly the fact that it is part of the same greater Sydney Harbour Foreshore walk, means that there is a physical relationship between the two projects, and so they should connect on more levels than simply physical.
Secondly, the many of the intentions of the Glebe Walk are the same as those for Bank Street, primarily the desire to increase and vary peoples interaction and connection to the water they live alongside.

Moreover, the Glebe Walk achieves a sensitive acknowledgment of the existing context without replication with the landscape interventions enhancing the various locations without complete domination. The Glebe Walk also demonstrates the articulation of a wide range of interactions with water, without becoming a theme park and providing them as opportunities rather then ultimatums.

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