The opening of The Goods Line in Ultimo brings the vision of a more connected, sustainable and innovative Sydney one step closer to reality. This unique elevated city park has seen a disused rail corridor reimagined as a leafy, energised public campus in the heart of one of the most densely populated, urbanised and formerly disconnected parts of Sydney.
The Goods Line forms the key strategic link from Sydney’s Central Station through to Chinatown and the Darling Harbour entertainment and leisure precinct. More than 80,000 tertiary students, locals and visitors are linked to the many major attractions of Darling Harbour, with 26 million visitors annually. Connection to arts, media, education and cultural institutions along Sydney’s Cultural Ribbon – such as UTS’s Frank Gehry designed Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, the ABC, and Sydney TAFE – are expressed.
The strategy behind the design of The Goods Line was to create a strong civic spine and establish a range of opportunities for people to come together, inhabit, occupy and use the space. It is a human-centred place offering a range of social experiences from the individual to the collective and for all demographics. The Goods Line is an example of the potential for design to transform isolated city spaces into creative and connected public destinations which enhance the public life of the city.
This linear park is filled with ‘social infrastructure’ such as bleachers, seats, an amphitheatre, Wi-Fi facilities, a playspace, ping pong tables and raised lawns, supporting the burgeoning public life of the city. Bespoke seating and furniture hark back to the site’s industrial heritage while the blurred boundaries along its length are designed to facilitate pop-up events and festivals, injecting a sense of community into a previously disused urban expanse. Pedestrian and cycle connections are formed, unlocking access to existing streets and neighbourhoods that surround the park, knitting Sydney’s inner south back into the surrounding city fabric.
Through a design process of digital modelling and a construction process largely undertaken by prefabrication, each pre-cast concrete panel, light fitting, planting and stool were laboured over and intimately designed down to their finest detail. The design utilises the robust materials associated with its rail infrastructure past: gravel, concrete, steel, timber and salvaged brick. The palette of plants which are set in gravel along the remnant rails are hardy, yet bring colour and texture to the post-industrial site. ‘Study Pods’ cantilever over the adjacent city street, positioned between the canopies of existing fig trees offering working and social spaces for students, workers, and visitors.
There is a strong overarching narrative in the design revealing transformation from a rich industrial history to one of social interaction, creative industries, and the promotion of innovation. By embracing unique interspersed modes of heritage interpretation, the rich history of The Goods Line is revealed and, at the same time, a new identity is created for the precinct.
The Goods Line
Loaded with civic ambition and public purpose, The Goods Line is a place which speaks to a new kind of social infrastructure for the city, where multiple opportunities for gathering, playing, and exchange of ideas can occur.