Chimneys - prince alfred park pool


"The art here is the art of the double act - of mimicry and diversion, of appearing and disappearing, of being part of a building and part of a landscape, of being part machine and part plant, or part chimney and part sky. In the resolution of the concept, form, materiality, composition, reflectivity and colour were explored and refined to achieve these aims and to reflect the systems and processes at work in the tri-generation plant". Sonia van de Haar

1 Prince Alfred Park Pool chimneys sketch.jpg

chimney follies

The pool building in the park has been designed to 'disappear' under a ramped grass roof.  However the proposed tri-generation plant required 12 large chimneys, housed in several very large metal plant rooms, potentially forming massive visual and physical barriers across the grass roof.

My approach was to celebrate and reveal the chimneys as part of the park and city infrastructure.  I suggested that the chimneys were trying to be more like trees, part of a cyclical energy exchange, and were therefore worthy of standing in an historic city park.  It was important that the chimneys remain clearly part of the park and pool infrastructure, and not be treated as a stand alone 'art work'. 

The chimneys were to become cousins of the Park's colour-dipped lamp posts, seats and shade structures. However… unlike the elegant lamp posts and swing sets, the tri-generation chimney enclosures were short and stout. I removed the enclosures to reveal each individual chimney, made them taller, and slimmed them down with angled cuts, to reveal their 'faces'.

They are not intended as a destination point in the park. They are something to be noticed obliquely, in passing.  Some thing curiously playful but obviously functional.  

Externally, the lower chimney sections are metallic silver, and like the lamp posts - industrial, functional and robust.  They have a proper job to do and they make no apology for that.  But every worker needs recreation time, and the chimneys have come to the park to socialise, gaze into the distance, and blow some hot air.  They don green hats, and push blue faces to the sky, trying to be like trees, trying to be much more civilised than their coal fired counterparts in remote places.  Trying to be green.

The upper sections are painted in many shades of green. The palette of greens is derived from the place itself – the park's trees. In this simple way the chimneys become visually connected to the tree family, as well as to the ‘colour-dipped’ infrastructure family.

A light blue painted interior and vermin mesh connects the chimneys to the sky and to the pool.  Blue signifies water, vapour and air.  Blue is a connecting theme in the park, and alerts us to the hidden pool within its folds.

After the completion of Stage 1 construction (6 chimneys), the Tri-generation Plant plans were abandoned, and the remaining 6 chimneys were not constructed.  

Neeson Murcutt

Landscape Architect
Sue Barnsley Design

City of Sydney