Port Botany Lookout

Port Botany Lookout, Sydney - Australia, Choi Ropiha Fighera
Address: Botany Bay, NSW | SYDNEY | Australia
Latitude/Longitude: -33.955, 151.194

In Port Botany harbour an engineered rock groyne stretches from the end of a beach across the water towards Sydney Airport’s north-south runway. The tip of this groyne is the site of the Port Botany Lookout. Previously wasteland, the area now has a park and beach connected by a new pedestrian and cycle path. The lookout is the termination point for this foreshore experience.

First seen on approach from the pedestrian path, the lookout’s silhouette may evoke a wrecked ship’s bow, enticing one to a destination for viewing. A ramped pathway leads to a lookout platform. The handrail edges lean in a 270 degree arc towards Port Botany, pointing to the spectacle of planes flying low across the water. A seat is provided to allow walkers and cyclists to stop, pause, observe or rest. The jutting form is softened with a wing-like tapering profile, integrating the lookout with the unusual beach and airport landscape composition.

Although ameliorated, the lookout’s context is still gritty and industrial, pervaded by shipping cranes, traversing tankers, and sky continuously punctuated by soaring planes. Sympathetically, the lookout was designed for pre-fabrication in a neighbouring factory whereby the architectural CAD 3D model was transformed directly into steel plates; a clinical conception from idea to construction. It was a process that transformed a single thickness of sheet steel into a robust and complex three dimensional shape.

From immaculate factory assembly the structure was craned into position and left exposed to the elements. An immediate defensive reaction ensued in which the lookout’s outer layers of steel molecules sacrificially rusted to protect the integrity of the overall structure. The structure’s gesture of preservation saw it blossom from a raw matte finish into a rich orange texture, perhaps indicating a healthy synergy between the lookout and its industrial setting.

The project received 2009 AR Awards for Emerging Architecture Commendation.

Floor Area: 85 sqm
Client: Sydney Ports Authority
Park Design: EDAW
Collaborators: EDAW, Maunsell, Northrop

⇒ Architecture Guide to SYDNEY