Darling Harbour Height Study


Location: Darling Harbour, NSW
Date completed: 2006
Collaboration: City Plan Urban Design

Darling Harbour is a significant entertainment and cultural precinct along the western edge of Sydney’s CBD. Obsolete rail and port facilities were intensively re-developed in time for Australia’s bicentenary celebrations in 1988. The subsequent two decades have seen the precinct evolve with mixed success, due in part to poor local connectivity and lack of density and mixed uses.

The agency responsible for development commissioned TCA in 2005 to prepare interim control guidelines for new development height within Darling Harbour. Establishing a clear and relevant rationale for this complex amalgam of free-standing, diverse architecture in a park-like setting was a critical priority in determining appropriate development guidelines.

Because there is no conventional type of urban structure in Darling Harbour, the strategy carved up‚ the entire area into 27 precincts, defined by the public domain, buildings and their individual curtilages. Each precinct was assessed in relation to the over-arching Darling Harbour valley form, preserving public amenity, and finally in relation to adjacent precincts.

The client required simple height levels rather than building envelopes for this study, to preserve development flexibility on the very complex sites that will be subject to redevelopment in the near future.