Parramatta Park Pavilion

  • 2023

  • Architectural
    Architectual Design

Designed In:


A light-filled, contemporary restaurant pavilion sits in harmony with its extraordinary UNESCO World Heritage-listed setting.

Built within the footprint of a fire-damaged 1980s cafe, it avoids potential disturbance of significant Aboriginal and early European artefacts. The remaining fabric is salvaged and reused.

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Image: Brett Boardman
Image: Brett Boardman
Image: Brett Boardman
Image: Brett Boardman
Image: Brett Boardman
Image: Brett Boardman
Image: Sam Crawford
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  • The key design challenge was using the existing footprint to avoid disturbing significant Indigenous and early European artefacts. Reuse was also critical - the slab, walls, bricks, many steel windows and doors and some roof trusses were all recycled. The client’s brief, informed by the terms of an insurance payout, a desire to minimise cost and resource use, and the potential for any disturbance of significant Aboriginal artifacts, required that we retain and reuse what remained of the building and make no further excavations or site disturbance including provision for any new services or footings. Essentially a no-dig site.

  • The simple, archetypal, pitched trussed roof, drawn from what remained of the building, strongly informed both the feel of interior spaces and the exterior expression of the new building. A new, raised section of roof, cut across the centre of the building, frames views of a significant fig tree, provides a sense of arrival to the events space, and negotiates the differing plan geometries of the event and restaurant spaces. This singular expression ensures that the setting, the extraordinarily beautiful and historic parkland and river, remains primary when viewing the building upon approach, and when viewing the landscape from within.

  • Our client notes: “The design uplifted the building through the integration of an existing section and the newly built portion. An atrium allowed the two sections of the building to harmoniously adjoin. The contemporary design allowed the structure to nestle within its surroundings. Even with the heritage challenges, the astute design presented a structure that is both aesthetically appealing and functional. As a result, the design allowed the building operator to maximise the functionality and flow of the building, to utilise both portions providing a restaurant space as well as a casual dining and café space for the public.”

  • The design respects the layers of history of the site - the park setting has a rich period of occupation by the Burramatta clan of the Darug people and ongoing connection for the Indigenous community. Numerous stone artefacts left behind by Aboriginal people are to be found nearby. It is one of eleven sites that form the ‘Australian Convict Sites’ World Heritage listing, and contains the oldest remaining public building and oldest remaining workers cottage in Australia. The pavilion sits on the site of former dressing sheds (also destroyed by fire) for river bathers dating from circa 1912, when the prohibition of public bathing was lifted. It overlooks ‘Little Coogee’, a former swimming and picnicking spot on the Parramatta River banks. And connects to cycleways and walkways in the park. The new design provides a facility that meets 21st century code requirements with new accessible public amenities and is future proof to adapt for changing uses and fit-outs. The need to retain service penetrations and wall footings led to a plan layout that closely approximated the original, without digging into the ground, with additional covered outdoor dining space to the south-west.