Barangaroo is earmarked to be the most ambitious expansion of the Sydney CBD involving over 500,000 square metres of floor space and 11,500 square metres dedicated for public recreation. The site spans 22 hectares and is located on the western fringe of the CBD. The area was previously used as a port for many years and has since been decommissioned around 4 years ago.

A design competition involving 137 submissions led to choosing Hill Thalis as the preferred architects for the project. On a personal level, I used to work in a Sydney CBD office which overlooked the site. The site occasionally attracted small cruise ships and I recall the demolition of the old warehouse buildings on the site which took a few days to complete.

According to Barangaroo website, an agreement between Barangaroo and Lend Lease has apparently been formalised. However there are 20 principle issues which need to be addressed, primarily dealing with the design of the overall development. A summary of the issues can be viewed here


The site used to be known as the ‘hungry mile’ and more recently as ‘East Darling Harbour’. A new name, ‘Barangaroo’ was chosen out of 1,600 entries and is derived from an aboriginal lady who lived in the late 1700’s. She was apparently a very powerful and was married to Bennelong, a prominent aboriginal in Australian history. A great overview of Barangaroo’s life written by Grace Karskens and can be viewed here.

Proposed Hotel

The grand plan has attracted wide media attention and even the former Prime Minister, Paul Keating. Controversial comments made by Paul Keating early this year were formally responded to by the project architect, Hill Thalis, which is available on their website. Recently there has been quite a lot of media attention over the proposed hotel which is set 150m over the harbour and around 200m tall.

I support the proposed hotel as it contributes to the uniqueness of Sydney and it will create a landmark for this integral CBD expansion. There is debate over it’s breach in height? and the way it is positioned hanging over the harbour. I heard an arguement to support the hotel while listening to talk back radio. The caller suggested that the Opera House was also designed over the harbour and now it is one of the world’s greatest buildings and perhaps the most iconic landmark for Australia. The same holds true with the proposed hotel and it has similar potential to make a design statement for Sydney.

Do you support the proposed hotel?

Implications for Sydney

The CBD is physically constrained to grow considering it sits next to the spectacular Sydney Harbour and is enclosed by well-established commercial and residential areas. Barangaroo is the last available land in the Sydney CBD which will strengthen Sydney’s economic position as a global city. The delivery of the proposal will be the key test for the State Government as the planning system will require significant reforms to facilitate a timely delivery. Considering the Government has shelved numerous proposals recently which will benefit the future sustainability of Sydney, it is imperative that Barangaroo is given special attention to ensure another promising proposal is not shelved. If Barangaroo is a succesful project it will retain investment confidence in the project and also in the State Government.

Will the GFO impact the success of the proposal?
How can the NSW planning system be improved to effectively deliver Barangaroo?