"This is a worthy addition to the city’s civic realm"
Jury citation, 2001 RAIA NSW Civic Design Award

Bligh Voller 2

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Cook and Phillip Park

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BVN and Spackman & Mossop in association
Sydney City Council
Cook and Phillip Park Aquatic and Fitness Centre, Sydney
June 1997 - January 1999
Full Architectural Services

6,000m² GFA


A significant addition to the city’s civic realm with sports and aquatic facilities, major new park and important public spaces.

The Cook and Phillip Park Aquatic and Fitness Centre is a major civic design project encompassing a sports and aquatic centre, car park and series of urban spaces between St Mary’s Cathedral and Australian Museum together with Sydney’s first new park in over 100 years.

The site has been transferred from a park sliced by two busy roads and a privately owned bowling club to that of a unified 4.5ha public amenity. The park provides continuity of accessible green spaces in the city. The Aquatic and Fitness Centre includes three fully programmable swimming pools, gyms, cafes, community facilities and multi-use sports courts. A formal square water garden and terraced public spaces provide further urban amenity, with the civic square of the Cathedral extended, without diminishing the importance of Hyde Park.
The building layout responds to two main grids – the CBD grid running parallel with College Street and that of the former East Sydney grid which is a 5 degree shift. Addressing the steep sloping site, a series of terraces that link the urban park and the building have been created. There are intentionally few buildings on each terrace responding to a need for varied public spaces within the CBD. The space successfully serves many users, from school children and churchgoers to office workers and joggers.



Cook and Phillip Park Aquatic and Fitness Centre, Sydney


RAIA NSW Civic Design Award
BDP National Urban Design Award

Brief Elements

  • 4 hectares
  • Land bridge link between Hyde Park and Domain
  • Terraces, lawns, squares, reflecting pools, fountains, boscs
  • Fig Ramp joins city to Darlinghurst
  • Cafes & restaurants
  • Heated indoor pools - 25m, Leisure, Hydrotherapy pools
  • Gymnasium
  • Recreation centre
  • Indoor sports Hall
  • Multi-use sports hall
  • Parking station
  • Integration work by 3 artist within the building and park
  • Significant forecourt to St.Mary's cathedral


  • Creating a series of urban spaces, including a new forecourt outside St Mary’s Cathedral
  • Facilitates connections between the city’s green spaces
  • Meets the variety of needs of the public comprising of local schools, community groups, local residents, and CBD workers
  • Incorporation of public artwork
  • Building compatible with the long term planning of Sydney City Council 'Sydney Spaces
  • Strategically located cafes and restaurants also provide informal 'surveillance
  • Sydney’s first wave pool
  • Reflection ponds hint at the pool located below and the seven fountains signify this is a water garden that terraces down to the old alignment of Yurong Creek