Feature, Hospitality/Leisure, Outdoor

Webb weaves magic at Sydney’s Barangaroo Reserve

The park is named after Barangaroo, a leader of the Cammeraygal people and wife of Bennelong of the Wangal people. She played a significant role in her community and that of the early British colony

Webb Australia Group’s lighting design for Sydney’s Barangaroo Reserve, the city’s newest harbour foreshore park, creates a safe, energy efficient and visually attractive public environment for people of all ages.

Barangaroo was a vacant 22-hectare former container wharf on the western harbour foreshore of the Sydney Central Business District. It is now being transformed into a thriving public, residential and commercial precinct with a waterfront promenade running the length of the site and is due to be completed in 2022. Incorporating the headland park known as Barangaroo Reserve, the precinct is one of the most ambitious and significant waterfront redevelopments anywhere in the world

Barangaroo Reserve is Sydney’s newest harbour foreshore park – marking the transformation of one of the city’s oldest and neglected industrial sites into a spectacular, six-hectare headland open space for Sydneysiders and visitors to enjoy. A concrete container terminal has been imaginatively reborn as a naturalistic rocky outcrop, sensitively landscaped with more than 75,000 native trees and shrubs.

Webb Australia Group was commissioned by the Barangaroo Delivery Authority and Lend Lease as lighting designers and electrical engineering consultants. “The design brief for the park lighting was to create a safe, energy efficient and visually attractive public environment for people of all ages and mobility to enjoy the park during the day and night,” explains Simon Chiu, one of Webb’s lighting designers on the project. “Being a public space which has to be accessible 24 hours, throughout the night, the challenge was to meet the public lighting and accessibility standards required by the authority stakeholders in a sensitive manner and balancing this against overlighting.”

He, and fellow lighting designers Marc Pirozzi and Ashwin Mungantiwar, drew inspiration from the area’s rich and colourful maritime history, which once used light as navigational beacons, guiding vessels around Sydney harbour. The scheme links the past with the present by marking the contours of the original 1836 shoreline on the sandstone steps.

The modern and symmetrical form of the cylindrical post-top luminaires pays homage to the harbour control tower and provides controlled and dimmable illumination for safe public access and night-time views

“The concept was developed in close consultation with the park’s landscape architects, who have a specific vision on the appearance and integration of any visible fixtures and materials,” says Chiu. “For example, any light fittings on poles should appear slender, such that the fittings appear like suspended lanterns, while providing a modern aesthetic that is integrated and befitting of the newly-made environment.”

The lighting appears warm and evenly illuminates the main ground pathways to guide visitors around the park. While located at regular intervals to ensure night-time levels of uniformity for accessibility and sense of security, it begins to form its own unique rhythm as the installation follows the curves of the shoreline and stairs.

Secondary and minor pathways were deliberately unlit to avoid over-lighting the park, as well as discouraging visitors from using these pathways at night time. Vegetation and trees were also left unlit to preserve a natural night-time appearance, with any minimal light spill from the pole lighting installation directed from above providing sufficient glow and rendering a natural appearance for the planting.

All cylindrical post-top LED luminaires are digitally addressed and dimmable utilising KNX and DALI-broadcast protocols, in what is said to be one of the largest outdoor installations of its kind in the world. “The design specifies for the luminaires to be dimmed down to 80% of full brightness to take into account maintenance factors to prevent over-lighting from day one,” says Chiu. “As the outputs of the LEDs depreciate over time, the levels can be gradually ramped up to maintain required illuminance levels.” The dimming flexibility also allows for the illumination to be dimmed and customised by the Park’s future operator during curfew hours when occupancy of the park is low to conserve energy and minimise light pollution.

Barangaroo Reserve is now open to the public with weekly celebration events and three months of free entertainment, art, culture, talks and family events.


Project profile

Barangaroo Reserve, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Client: Barangaroo Delivery Authority, Lend Lease

Lighting design: Webb Australia Group

Architect: PWP Landscape Architecture, Johnson Pilton Walker, WMK Architecture

Suppliers: Selux, Filix, ERCO, iGuzzini, Jadecross, Sylvania Lighting, Clevertronics, LiteSource

Pictures: Nick Bowers, Simon Chiu