Ethos Urban prepared due diligence and development capacity analysis for Sydney Water Corporation for the existing decommissioned water reservoir in Drummoyne. Constructed in 1913, the elevated steel reservoir is a state significant heritage item presenting a unique opportunity to adapt and reinterpret the special design and heritage characteristics of the site and express this in a contemporary solution. 

The Reservoir sits proud of surrounding development and represents a unique typology designed in a utilitarian version of the Victorian Italianate industrial style further reinforced as a tower typology intended to give it landmark qualities. Classical elements are evident in the tank’s support structure, with rendered concrete piers carrying half-circle arches. 

Due to the heritage qualities of the site, a design philosophy was established at the project outset where the re-purposing and adaptation of the Drummoyne Reservoir represented a unique opportunity to reinterpret the site’s heritage value while ensuring its conservation and relevance in a changing urban context. Innovative architectural solutions sensitive to the site’s surroundings could extend the life and access to the heritage asset, enabling a contemporary use for the surrounding community. 

The project scope included overseeing and managing the preparation of a Conservation Management Plan by a heritage consultant and the preparation of multiple development options to understand the site’s highest and best use whilst regarding the likely planning pathways and concessions that may be available. Innovative solutions and flexibility in the application of development standards were needed as non-permissible uses may only be permitted if conservation of the reservoir is the primary objective for contravening the development standards. The proposed design seeks to retain the volume and proportions of the tank structure while activating the ground floor plane making it more accessible to the community.

This capacity analysis was the first step in realising the future development potential for the site. Since undertaking this work, the vision for the site has further evolved to accommodate a childcare centre spread across five levels within the reservoir tank structure as well as an outdoor play area and garden on the rooftop.

Key aspects of the development capacity analysis include: 

  • Adaptive re-use of heritage item.
  • Highest and best-use capacity analysis.
  • Planning pathway relating to each development scenario.
  • Visualisations reimagining the heritage structure and broader site.

Team

Chee Heng Tan

Chee Heng Tan

Principal | Sydney

Ping Chien Ng

Ping Chien Ng

Principal | Sydney

Stefan Meissner

Stefan Meissner

Director | Sydney