Sydney Harbour Bridge vs Barangaroo Reserve – Pilot vs Co-pilot

It’s the old Tom and Jerry battle between professions. Engineering (Sydney Harbour Bridge) vs landscape architecture (Barangaroo Reserve). I say Tom and Jerry, because in the cartoon series they fight, they argue, they play and they discuss. Yet at the end of the day they are friends and often work together.

The steel arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge carries rail, vehicles, bicycle and pedestrian traffic between North Shore and Sydney CBD. This is a very important component to ensure a city runs smoothly. The bridge was opened on July 28th, 1928. It has been there for many years and is such a strong visual identification to Sydney and its people. For me the bridge has great detail when viewed closely and you can see the workmanship. However, when you read the form further back it becomes a quick appreciation to understand it.

sydney harbour bridge - Black Pen

As development has occurred around Sydney waterfront, the once vegetated slopes have been covered with developments. The Sydney Harbour Bridge in a sense has lost its green buffer between surrounding visual slope and water. Could Barangaroo Reserve provide some opportunities for this relationship to re-emerge and strengthen the lost lushness for the Sydney Harbour?

Barangaroo Reserve is located next to one the biggest and most unavoidable icons of Sydney, the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This obvious consideration for the decision makers when specifying Barangaroo Reserve and how the two needed to work together, to interface and to be a team player. Did the design team do the interface well?

When I was at the Barangaroo Reserve, I think the design team deliberately maintained an open view line from the top of Barangaroo reserve look out to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Is this right design choice or should there have been more variance in vegetation be considered. Could the extra vegetation make the space less obvious and provide more intrigue and discovery along the way.

For me as a tourist walking around Sydney, I wanted to capture the Sydney Harbour Bridge with plant foliage in the foreground. I was looking for a different photo to capture the icon in a softer light. I got an acceptable shot near Mrs Macquarie’s Bay, see below. However, when I reached the lookout of Barangaroo, I was a little disappointed. There was no foreground or plant foliage on Barangaroo Reserve lookout slope. The addition of garden bed plant foliage may come at a later stage. I suppose not everyone wants to take a photo of the bridge with colourful plants in the foreground.View to Sydney Harbour Bridge - Black Pen

I experienced at Barangaroo Reserve look out lawn an open and predictable view direct to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I’m like great, I can see the bridge, a quick selfie, and moving on, trying to find something else to look at.

barangaroo reserve - black pen image 8 bridge

I imagine on a New Year’s Eve at 12am this open view will definitely be the spot to capture striking views of fireworks launching over Sydney Harbour Bridge. I assume if you like taking photos of fireworks then this lawn will appeal to you. Most likely, it will appeal too many and the lawn will be packed. However, wouldn’t it be also nice to be surrounded by plants that smelled wonderful? They wouldn’t block your view to bridge or the fireworks as you would be looking upwards.

On the west slope of Barangaroo they have planted over 75,000 plants. The planting was inspired by pre settlement. I prefer the batter planting treatment to continue around the slope to the lookout area. This would have provided a much nicer interface between Barangaroo Reserve and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

When I look at this Barangaroo Reserve western slope planting from a distance it has such a beautiful lushness. Once these planting slopes mature, it will truly get better and better with time. This slope will become very important to Sydney waterfront. I would argue they would be more important to Sydney than the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The planting on these slopes would offer so much including texture, life, detail, fragrance, colour, nature and human life. The slope will be in full bloom.

barangaroo reserve - black pen image 6

You might drive over the Sydney Harbour Bridge to go to work, or go home and possible get stuck in its traffic. You go to the Barangaroo Reserve and your trouble and woes are forgotten from the day you had. The landscape and water have taken them away.

If the Sydney Harbour Bridge is the pilot that steers the ship and directs people to come to Sydney. Then this planting on the western slope at Barangaroo Reserve is the co-pilot. It sits there and provides support and complements the Bridges beautifully. Eventually, my prediction, once the vegetation at Barangaroo Reserve western slope grows to mature size, it will start to take on a greater pilot role rather than being a co-pilot. Maybe, both Sydney Harbour Bridge and Barangaroo Reserve become pilots together and steer the Sydney ship in an exciting new direction.

Black Pen



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