Green Square’s Gunyama Park Aquatic Centre finally opens

Aerial view of the Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre. Photo: City of Sydney.

By TRAVIS DE JONK

It’s the largest pool complex built in Sydney since the 2000 Olympics. After three years of design and construction, Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre has finally opened, although $56million over budget and more than eight months later than scheduled. 

In 2014 the City of Sydney Council issued an open architecture call for the design of a new pool and recreation centre to serve Green Square’s growing population. A collaboration between Andrew Burges Architects with Grimshaw and TCL won the tender. The winning design was chosen for its integrated sustainability and its innovative, seamless integration of an urban beach pool into a park and surrounding native landscape, inspired by the area’s former wetlands.

WATCH: Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore takes a hard hat tour of the new aquatic centre

Situated in Zetland, in the City of Sydney’s new Green Square development, the expansive, state of the art complex is said to be Australia’s most accessible and sustainable facility of its kind.

Officially open to the public as of this week, the Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre was approved in 2015 originally at a budget of $50 million. However by the time CPB Contractors were contracted to build the facility, the project costs had blown out to $84 million. Further delays and construction costs were exacerbated by Covid-19, resulting in the final opening costs coming in at a reported $106 million. 

In December 2020, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the City of Sydney will have paid more than $1 million to the operations contractor – Belgravia Leisure – prior to the centre’s opening.

Council officers said these funds were spent on recruiting and training 149 people, marketing, chemicals, equipment purchases, plant and equipment maintenance, insurance, IT equipment and licences, and a facility pre-clean.

A City of Sydney spokesperson said in an official statement that “many factors, including the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic, delayed completion of the project”.

A man about to dive into the 50m outdoor pool at Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre. Photo: Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre/City of Sydney/Facebook.

The construction period blowout has been blamed in part for difficulties plaguing the $34 million Joynton Creative Arts Centre across the road – a three level arts centre which opened in 2018 before being crippled by the council approval of roadworks and building works blocking direct entry to the centre. Commissioned to be run by Projects 107, the difficult operational circumstances have impacted the bottom line of projects and businesses within the facility.

The first aquatic centre in Australia to hold a Green Star rating, Gunyama Park is a leader in sustainability, featuring an energy co-generation system to heat and power the centre, significantly reducing its carbon footprint and making it cheaper to run each year. Solar panels on the roof of the centre are connected to the local electricity network, allowing any surplus electricity to power buildings in the neighbouring community and cultural precinct.

The aquatic centre is designed to meet the needs of the community, from kids taking a dip to athletes swimming serious laps. 

Gunyama Park Aquatic Centre features:

  • 50m heated outdoor pool set within a larger, irregular shaped artificial beach pool
  • 25m heated indoor program pool for swimming lessons
  • Indoor leisure pool with a range of interactive toys, including water spraying devices and tipping buckets
  • Heated hydrotherapy pool
  • Health and fitness centre and covered outdoor yoga deck
  • A full-size outdoor synthetic multipurpose sports playfield
  • A fully equipped gymnasium and outdoor training circuit

WATCH: The Green Square development vision

Spanning the suburbs of Zetland, Waterloo, Rosebery, Beaconsfield and Alexandria, the Green Square precinct is set to become the most densely populated part of Australia by 2030. With the population rising so fast, approximately 470,000 visits to the centre are forecast in its first year of operation, expected to rise to 680,000 by 2024.

More info: https://gunyamapark.com.au