The transformational project has turned the HMAS Platypus site at North Sydney into a waterfront urban park, giving access to areas off-limits to the public for over 140 years. Located in the leafy neighbourhood of Kirribilli, but separated by water and significant level change, the site has a distinctly different character to its surrounds. Nonetheless, it has become a valuable addition to the urban waterfront landscape of Sydney.

The first stage of the project (Stage 1A) was opened to the public in May 2018 with the second stage opening in December 2019. The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust adopted a Management Plan for the site in December 2016, which sets out a vision for a public park incorporating culture, recreation and commercial commerce.

Platypus was formerly the Australian Navy base for six Oberon Class submarines, based there from 1967 to 1999. The renewal program brought together the team of ASPECT Studios Sydney on public domain and landscape, lazhnimmo architects on building adaptation and new structures, as well as ASPECT’s wayfinding team on historic interpretive elements, including the recently unveiled Submariners Memorial.

A new harbour foreshore park has emerged in North Sydney

The Northern Park, Northern Stair, Playground and Submariners’ Memorial together form a coherent and discrete public domain space within the broader Sub Base Platypus precinct. They are separated from the neighbourhood by a significant level change, water, and adjacent private properties. The implementation of the Northern Stair, along with the Kesterton Park Link creates a previously missing loop through the space, opening it to the public for the first time. These new entries are distinct in character, each celebrating their unique setting.

At the northern end, the Northern Stair is the first in a series of ‘clip-on’ circulation elements that appear to cling to the sandstone cliff face. The use of colour clearly demarcates the element as a new addition to the industrial site, and a public element when viewed from a distance.

To the south, the Kesterton Park link is a new, waterfront ‘boardwalk’ structure that connects the existing public domain to the new. The use of similar materials creates connection to the northern park, whilst addition of timber and stainless steel elements celebrates the waterfront typology.

Sydney Harbour Federation Trust


Master Plan Design Development, Documentation, Construction Administration


North Sydney, NSW, Australia


ASPECT Studios, lahznimmo architects




Simon Wood