Day Trip Tip: Paddington Reservoir Gardens

Paddington Reservoir Gardens is an award-winning venue in the City of Sydney’s east that has been completely transformed from its former life.

The reservoir was a vital source of water for the rapidly growing population in the 19th century. It ceased supplying water in 1899 and the site has been through a couple of uses since, including a garage and a petrol station.  It is now state heritage-listed.

“When TZG and JMD were commissioned to convert the Paddington Reservoir into an urban park, the general expectation was that the site would be capped off and a brand new arrangement built on top. However, we were captivated by the possibilities of revealing the 19th century structures as a ruin through which members of the public could wander, taking in the dramatic spaces and play of light across the remnants of historic walls and vaults.” (TZG Architects)

Hailed as a blend of the ancient Baths of Caracalla in Rome and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Paddington Reservoir Gardens opened in its current form in 2009.

The project has restored as much of the reservoir’s original framework as possible, and re-imagined the space in a new way. Original brick, timber and iron fixtures were salvaged and the site is fused with contemporary and sustainable elements. It truly is a thrilling blend of old and new.

“The landscape design reinforces the legacy of the reservoir in its partially ruined state by maintaining a simple grassed area on the eastern roof portion and creating an accessible `Sunken Garden’ in the ruined western chamber. The garden takes advantage of the reservoir’s unique microclimate and solar access through the use of sub-tropical plant species, lush rainforest planting and ponds punctuating the space.” (JMD Design)

Stroll through the immaculate gardens and wide boardwalks. There are plenty of places to sit and have a rest. The roof-top features a stunning sunken garden, and vibrant graffiti art has been preserved in the eastern chamber. Hang around until the sun sets if you can, as the lighting detail transforms the space once again.

Paddington Reservoir Gardens won the Australian Award for Urban Design in 2009. The public space has also received the seal of approval from the ABC’s Art Nation (featured in the video on this page) and Gardening Australia. The gardens are accessible and entry is free. Bus routes 378, 382 and 380 stop nearby.

If you are interested to read the whole project description by TonkinZulaikhaGreer Architects and JMD Design check out their websites.

How to get there:

251-255 Oxford Street
Paddington NSW 2021

For more parks and gardens in Sydney visit City Of Sydney.

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