Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Swimming Pool in Surry Hills

If you zoom in, you can see that lifeguard over there is already giving me the eye. He was on his way over to figure out if I was some kind of pervert and - regardless of the answer, politely but firmly tell me to stop taking photos. Apparently, people are sensitive about other people with cameras at a pool. Who knew? Photo ©Darren Bradley
While in Sydney, I visited the new pool at Prince Alfred Park in Surry Hills. It's a great new project by the firm of Neeson Murcutt Architects. The pool and the park existed already, but they were run down and in need of some love. 

This park, wedged between a very busy road and the central railway station, is not exactly an ideal location.  The architects had their work cut out for them. 

Not much to see from the street besides these colourful ventilation ducts. Photo ©Darren Bradley
There's a nice café at the entrance where we had lunch. 

The café with the green roof/hill/berm behind it. Notwithstanding the safety of that little girl, I was really cursing the presence of that ugly fencing all around the complex. Photo ©Darren Bradley
The food was pretty good, and it wasn't a bad place to spend an hour or so in the afternoon. 
Photo ©Darren Bradley
The solution was to create a earthen berm on the street side, effectively shielding the pool from the traffic and road noise. They also created a berm on the train side, with terraced grass hill and giant yellow parasols. The effect is very Christo and Jeanne-Claude. I didn't get any photos of that, though, because they were pretty much all closed when I visited so I didn't bother. Also, that lifeguard... 

The other best parts of the project that I didn't get a chance to photograph were the locker rooms (I'm sure the lifeguard would have loved that, too...). Naturally lit and ventilated, it's a sweeping, wave-like wall. Simple and very nicely done. 

On a sincerely sad note, the Murcutt side of Neeson Murcutt Architects passed away suddenly in March of 2011 after a short battle with lung cancer. Nick Murcutt (son of Pritzker Prize-winning Australian architect Glenn Murcutt) was not only the business partner of Rachel Neeson, but they were also life partners, and had two kids. My condolences to his family. 


Unknown said...

No pics at the pool? That’s a first. It was probably good that you didn’t tell the lifeguard you were posting them online. Haha! The pool area and amenities look amazing! The large (Olympic-sized?) pool makes room for a lot of swimmers, and I really like that each lane could accommodate more than one lap swimmer at a time. Thanks for the post and taking these pics. Cheers!


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