Henning Larsen reveals winning design of Cockle Bay Park on Sydney waterfront

The Scandinavian architecture firm's $650m urban park aiming to restitch the city with the waterfront will host a floating tower, a retail plinth and an elevated public park.

by Zohra Khan Published on : Mar 19, 2020

Henning Larsen has been announced as the winner of the Cockle Bay Park – a 73,000 sqm urban park for Sydney’s Cockle Bay wharf. The Copenhagen-based firm was among the six shortlists for an international competition that included renowned practices such as FJMT, Grimshaw Architects, Woods Bagot, Wilkinson Eyre and UNStudio-Cox Architecture joint venture.

A glimpse of winning project overlooking the harbour | Cockle Bay Park | Henning Larsen | STIRworld
A glimpse of the winning project overlooking the harbour Image Credit: © MIR

The development covers an area above the eight lane Western distributor freeway that currently divides the city centre from the waterfront and the thriving Pyrmont district. Henning Larsen’s wining design presents a 183 m high skyscraper hosting office spaces atop a retail podium, and a sprawling elevated park along the Darling Harbour waterfront.

‘City scale’ and ‘village scale’ defining the development of the various spaces | Cockle Bay Park | Henning Larsen | STIRworld
‘City scale’ and village scale’ defining the development of the various spaces Image Credit: © MIR

The scheme defines a mix of traditional retail, office, and public programs into a unified, community destination. It envisions the development on two scales - one on the ‘city scale’ where the 63,000 sqm tower will become part of the Sydney skyline, and the ‘village scale’ as a public realm connecting them to the waterfront.

‘Reflective glass and ceramic drape the floating cuboidal volumes of the tower | Cockle Bay Park | Henning Larsen | STIRworld
Reflective glass and ceramic drape the floating cuboidal volumes of the tower Image Credit: © MIR

The vertical stacks of cuboidal volumes inconspicuously broken by green lobby spaces stand upright as the tower facing the harbour. While the superstructure features reflective glass and ceramic on the façade, the public and retail spaces on the ground floor use wood and stone.  

The retail plinth on the ground floor | Cockle Bay Park | Henning Larsen | STIRworld
The retail plinth on the ground floor Image Credit: © MIR

The tower’s unbroken silhouette, the studio says, “slips seamlessly among the towers of Sydney’s CBD, breaking down into more human-scaled pieces,” on reaching the ground level. 

10,000 sqm of area comprising shops, restaurants and bars form the retail plinth. This space is positioned alongside a wide pedestrian boulevard that forms a continuous link with the adjacent harbour and frame panoramic views of the water and the city in the background.

  • Space around the entrance to the Cockle Bay tower | Cockle Bay Park | Henning Larsen | STIRworld
    Space around the entrance to the Cockle Bay tower Image Credit: Courtesy of Henning Larsen
  • Wide pedestrian walkways around the shops on the ground level | Cockle Bay Park | Henning Larsen | STIRworld
    Wide pedestrian walkways around the shops on the ground level Image Credit: Courtesy of Henning Larsen

The design also proposes an expansive public park as green lungs in the middle of the cosmopolitan city. It extends from the elevated ground level towards the waterfront below.

Pedestrian link connecting the waterfront with the retail area | Cockle Bay Park | Henning Larsen | STIRworld
Pedestrian link connecting the waterfront with the retail area Image Credit: © MIR

The project aims to ring in a new life for the people of Australia’s largest city. “Sydney is unique in how it entwines a friendly local atmosphere within a cosmopolitan city – we see Cockle Bay Park as an opportunity to reflect this and to emphasise the best of what Sydney can be,” says Viggo Haremst, Partner at Henning Larsen.

Visualised interiors of the tower’s ground floor lobby | Cockle Bay Park | Henning Larsen | STIRworld
Visualised interiors of the tower’s ground floor lobby Image Credit: © MIR

“I believe our design for Cockle Bay Park will set a new standard for high-rise development, one where the interface between public and commercial realm link to create a strong sense of community,” he adds.

The new skyscraper of the Cockle Bay Park development merging into Sydney skyline | Cockle Bay Park | Henning Larsen | STIRworld
The new skyscraper of the Cockle Bay Park development merging into Sydney skyline Image Credit: © MIR

The $650m office and retail development is planned by global investment manager AMP Capital and Australian property and real estate investment giant, The GPT Group. Having received Stage 1 approval in May 2019, it is scheduled to be completed in 2026.

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About Author

Zohra Khan

Zohra Khan

A formal education in architecture combined with an avid interest in architecture journalism and design criticism led Khan to professionally venture into writing and research. She has worked in design communication for more than three years, generating content for mondo*arc india journal. When not writing, she kicks back by dabbling on social media for STIR.

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