Parramatta Park Pavilion by Sam Crawford Architects
A popular cafe is severely damaged by fire in 2016. From the shell, a new 300 seat restaurant has burst into being within the same footprint – salvaging and reusing all the remaining fabric. The restaurant and public amenities connect with the river and its extraordinary UNESCO World Heritage-listed landscape setting.
“The key design driver was to maintain the footprint of the former cafe building so as to avoid disturbance of 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.
It was a gymnastics exercise – we couldn’t dig anything, the utilities had to remain in the same location, and of course we needed to meet the 21st century building code. And be future proof to adapt for changing uses,” Sam Crawford explains.
“We wanted to respect 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.
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,” added Crawford.
The key driver for the design was to maintain the footprint of the former cafe building so as to avoid disturbance of 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.
Open and welcoming, the building has large steel-framed windows and doors and lofty pitched ceilings, which provide natural light and clear views of the park and river and the burgeoning city of Parramatta in the distance.
The long metal roof produces a striking form with light-weight and transparent materials to increase connection between the inside and outside spaces. The translucent roof at the south-western end is cantilevered out to create an additional outside covered eating area, increasing dining capacity and giving shade from the afternoon sun.
A strong entry portal is a marker in the landscape, providing a visual link through the building to the river, and mediating between two gable roof geometries. The oversized threshold welcomes, gathers and directs patrons, and frames the view of a large fig tree and the river beyond.
The restaurant 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 park is located in the lands of the Burramatta clan of the Darug people with ongoing connection for the Indigenous community. The Darug people called the area Burramatta (“Burra” meaning eel and “matta” meaning creek), and themselves the Burramatta.
The site is rich in artefacts evidencing thousands of years of Indigenous habitation and remains of high cultural value. In addition 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. Source by Sam Crawford Architects.
Location: Parramatta, Australia
Architect: Sam Crawford Architects
Project Team: Sam Crawford, Louisa Gee, Ken Warr, Allen Huang, Caitlin Condon
Structural Engineer: Partridge
Hydraulic Engineer: InLine Hydraulic Services
Mechanical Engineer: Evolved Engineering
Electrical Engineer: Lighting, Art + Science
Landscape: McGregor Coxall
Section J Consultant: BCA Energy
Quantity Surveyor: Z & L Consulting
PCA: Anthony Protas Consulting
Interior Design: Nic Graham & Associates
Builder: Grindley Interiors
Client: Parramatta Park & Western Sydney Parklands Trusts
Photographs: Brett Boardman, Parker Blain, Courtesy of Jane Silversmith