Parramatta Aquatic Centre wins top NSW Architecture Awards

By Our Reporter
Parramatta pool // Pic supplied

Parramatta Aquatic Centre (PAC) has scooped the pool at the NSW Architecture Awards, claiming the State’s highest honour for public architecture.

The awards, run by the NSW chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects, named PAC winner of the Sulman Medal as well as receiving an Urban Design award. Another of the City’s newest additions, Charles Street Square, also won an Urban Design award.

The rejuvenated Parramatta Town Hall also received a special commendation for heritage conservation after being short listed in the category.

City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Cr Pierre Esber said it’s an extraordinary achievement, testament to Parramatta’s transformation into a global city.

“Great global cities are known for their iconic architecture. Community facilities like PAC have transformed our City and we are delighted the hardworking architects and designers at Grimshaw and Andrew Burges Architects and McGregor Coxall have been recognised for their bold vision,” Cr Esber said.

“They not only preserved but enhanced the natural environment at Mays Hill, creating a little oasis within the UNESCO World Heritage listed Parramatta Park and across from Old Government House.

“Public pools aren’t just about swimming, they are an Australian icon. PAC fits the bill and the numbers tell the story: we had more than 470,000 visits to the facility, 6,400 school children attending swimming carnivals, and over 2,000 swim school program registrations.

“The jury also acknowledged the real depth of cultural significance that is tangible in the everyday experience of Charles Street Square. I am pleased with what the architects and designers have achieved and the win is a credit to their creativity.”

Pic supplied

Cr Esber said this is only the start of the City’s major transformation as Council looks to 2050.

“We are at the forefront of modern design and these three projects are only the beginning,” Cr Esber said.

“Just look at the design of the new Riverside Theatres which is expected to open in 2028—there is nothing like it in Australia, with its cutting-edge sustainable design and huge 1,500 seat capacity in its largest theatre. We can’t wait to see the vision for this project come to life.”

Grimshaw Sydney Managing Partner Michael Janeke said it was a pleasure to work on PAC.

“Over the past four years, we have worked with the City of Parramatta to bring this innovative building to fruition—creating a new type of community health and wellness facility which respects the exceptional, world-recognised heritage of the site and offers the joys and pleasures of swimming in a landscaped park setting,” Mr Janeke said.

Lahznimmo Architects director and Charles Street Square lead architect Andrew Nimmo said the project was a real team effort.

“Whilst the completed project may seem simple in its resolution—it is hard to imagine a more complex site on which to build—I think the design team and Council have done well to pull it all into a coherent design,” Mr Nimmo said.

“Our brief was to design the new gateway to Parramatta. Charles Street Square is an important first step in the River City reclaiming its best asset—the river.

“At the confluence of salt water and fresh water, the site of Charles Street Square has enormous cultural significance for all who understand the importance of Country. We had a responsibility to respect that in our design.”

Charles Street Square was also recognised by the NSW Chapter of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects with an Award of Excellence for Civic Design.

All three recognised projects were officially opened between September and December 2023.

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