The Drying Green

  • 2023

  • Architectural
    Place Design

Commissioned By:

City of Sydney

Designed In:


The Drying Green is a 6,400m2 urban park located at the heart of Green Square’s urban regeneration zone. It’s the centrepiece of a network of new public green spaces servicing the growing community, the world’s first ecological engine – an innovative urban wetland that harnesses green-and-blue living infrastructure.

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Image: Simon Wood Photography
Image: Simon Wood Photography
Image: Simon Wood Photography
Image: Simon Wood Photography
Image: Maxwell Tooby
Image: Maxwell Tooby
Image: Simon Wood Photography
Image: Simon Wood Photography
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  • With Green Square predicted to have a population density higher than Hong Kong by 2030 (22,000 people per square km), the brief dictated a green space offering to contribute to the City of Sydney’s Sustainable Sydney target of minimum overall green cover of 40 percent across the city by 2050. In pre-European times Sheas Stream bisected the site, part of an extensive wetland system located on Gadigal Country. The freshwater appealed to industry and over time, industrial use and landfill led to widespread contamination and flooding. The design needed to enhance liveability and restore the ecology of Green Square.

  • Utilising principles of origami, the design delivers sculpted lawns, folded gardens, and public amenities set within an innovative urban wetland that harnesses green-and-blue living infrastructure. Best practice water-sensitive urban design delivered through cascading wetlands clean polluted runoff flowing below the park in concrete culverts before diverting it to the Alexandria Canal, while complex hidden technology that powers the library, plaza, and public artwork installation is concealed within the Drying Green’s berms. Design work commenced in 2013 and endeavoured over the next decade to deliver Australia’s most technologically advanced park.

  • Merging innovative design, engagement with community, and sustainable practices, the Drying Green stands as a testament to the achievements of innovative landscape architectural endeavour. The park interface lends itself to air and water cleansing properties, shaded connections, and open space amenity – a democratic offering for Green Square’s township. Angular berms provide visual and acoustic separation from busy surrounding streets, creating a haven for residents and visitors alike. The Drying Green’s regenerative landscape and concurrent waterways bring new meaning in pursuit of resilience within Sydney’s urban environments. The design repairs a lost ecological connection, reconnecting the park with its wetland roots.

  • The Drying Green features a large, inclined lawn raised to capture maximum winter sun and is linked to a large BBQ pavilion for summer shade, fully optimised for use year-round. Each day, one-third of an Olympic pool of polluted water is drawn from a drain flowing deep beneath the site and cycled through the wetland. The water passes through the high-tech system multiple times and every 3 days is returned clean to Alexandria Canal. A large number of piles were driven into the former landfill below the site to stabilise the ground and prevent differential settlement. Technology concealed within the origami green forms another part of the ecological engine. A substation hidden within the sculptural amenities building (designed by Chrofi Architects) powers the library and plaza, connected by electrical infrastructure hidden within The Drying Green's berms. Photovoltaic cells located on the pavilion designed by McGregor Coxall feed renewable energy into the grid to offset the energy needed to power the artwork installation - 'Stream' - by contemporary Australian artist, Kerri Poliness. Construction was extremely complex, with exacting attention to detail delivered by (Constructors) Regal Innovations, to ensure a streamlined, hi-tech management system for the park now and into the future.