Rejuventating a public housing neighbourhood into a vibrant mixed use precinct
Washington Park is a unique development in Riverwood North. The first public / private sector partnership of its kind – – rejuventating a public housing neighbourhood into a vibrant mixed use precinct – Housing NSW (now LAHC) worked closely with developer Payce to develop an innovative and mutually beneficial commercial structure to deliver 150 new social housing apartments for seniors and approximately 500 apartments for private sale.
The great success of this model has led to it being formalised into what is currently one of the NSW Government’s key initiatives to grow the social housing portfolio – Communities Plus. The program will deliver up to 23,000 new and replacement social housing dwellings, 500 affordable housing dwellings and up to 40,000 private dwellings.
TURF has been working with Payce since 2009, first to develop a masterplan vision for the project, and then working through staged concept design, documentation and providing construction stage services to see the project through to realisation.
A key strategy of the Washington Park development has been to provide the public domain upgrades first; creating series of quality new places that the existing community will love and that others will want to be a part of. The result is a place that the local people have embraced, and the vast majority of apartments sold before a single brick has been laid.
Surrounded by over 100 hectares of verdant parkland and straddling the southern bank of Salt Pan Creek Wetlands, Washington Park is intrinsically linked and inspired by its surrounding, natural environment. The architecture (by award-winning Turner Architects) addresses the Salt Pan Creek wetlands, and is seamlessly connected via a series of generous new pedestrian links that draw people through the new park and plaza spaces.
Two green spaces – Central Park and Garden Square – become the focus of public life in Washington Park.
Central Park is the core green space and provides a terraced platform along its highest edge that overlooks an open parkland of existing, mature Eucalypts. The primary path leads down to Salt Pan Creek Wetland, passing a series of intimate shaded areas, rain gardens and a bioretention swale bridge crossing before opening up to link back with the existing wetlands.
When the Library building and surrounding apartment buildings are completed in late 2017 Garden Square will become the vibrant heart of Riverwood community life. Drawing inspiration from the great squares of southern France, the space is framed by plane trees and celebrates a horizon of colour and texture. Central to the square are two large figs that become a shaded oasis for the residents and visitors in the warmer months.
A new library, cafe, retail frontages and community co-op sit are located in the heart of Garden Square; providing an active and welcoming public arena for patrons of all ages. This social, urban meeting space has been designed to accommodate markets, small events and the like, activating the space with people from all walks of life at all hours of the day.