An arts and cultural hot spot on Sydney’s glittering waterfront.
The revitalised state-of-the-art Walsh Bay Arts Precinct delivers a new home for making, performing and experiencing theatre, dance and music right on Sydney’s most iconic waterfront. Infrastructure NSW, on behalf of the NSW Government, completed the transformation of the Precinct in partnership with Richard Crookes Constructions who revitalised Pier 2/3 from an empty wool store to a premium 21st century space for theatre and music performance. Combined with Wharf 4/5 this premier arts precinct establishes Sydney’s reputation as a global player in the arts sector.
View our new 360 virtual tour to explore construction elements of the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct.
Transforming Wharf 4/5 and Pier 2/3
The project aimed to create a sustainable and activated arts and cultural precinct that supports and nurtures Sydney’s home-grown culture and creativity. The completed Walsh Bay Arts Precinct redevelopment not only celebrates the unique heritage value of Pier 2/3 and Wharf 4/5, but also commits to their preservation. Heritage fabric has been carefully protected during construction and substantial remediation works have been undertaken to repair, reinterpret and preserve these heritage-listed building.
The transformation of Wharf 4/5 and Pier 2/3 included structural alterations, fire engineering upgrades and detailed internal fit out to create purpose-built performance, commercial and retail spaces for the tenants.
The first stage of the NSW Government’s redevelopment of the iconic waterfront precinct was completed in 2020 with the renovation of Wharf 4/5. The project involved the demolition of the former internal structures and delivery of state-of-the-art facilities for the tenants, whilst preserving both the existing State Significant heritage structure and elements.
Wharf 4/5 was extensively renovated to provide purpose-built facilities and performance spaces with the latest technology in theatre, recording and educational facilities for the performing arts, essentially “a building within a building”.
Pier 2/3 was the second stage of the NSW Government’s redevelopment of the iconic waterfront precinct. As part of construction, large sections of the roof were raised to increase usable performance space and accommodate the required lighting and sound equipment, and retractable seating banks were installed to deliver flexible performance spaces. After two years of construction, Pier 2/3 was renovated from an empty wool store to 21st century theatre spaces for performing arts companies.
Despite the unique construction challenges of working over water on an over 100-year-old pier presented, the project team designed an extensive program of structural strengthening of the pier, paving the way for new state-of-the-art facilities that are acoustically sound and tailored to the needs of each user of the space.
Completed by Infrastructure NSW, the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct project has received numerous accolades and awards:
The prestigious NSW Architecture Medallion, Public Architecture Award, Greenway Award for Heritage and a commendation for Interior Architecture at the 2022 NSW Architecture Awards
2022 Industry Choice Award at the 2021-22 Annual Infrastructure Oration and National Infrastructure Awards
2022 National Trust Heritage Awards for Conservation-Built Heritage.
Pier 2/3 and Wharf 4/5 structure was built.
The Pier 2/3 and Wharf 4/5 structure was built from a combination of Turpentine piles, Ironbark (or whatever hardwood was available) structural members including joists, bearers, flooring, wall framing and cladding and Oregon roof structure, with steel fixings.
The distinctive timber wharf of Pier 2/3 was originally constructed in the 1920s and attained heritage status in 1999.
The works on Pier 2/3 and Wharf 4/5 were considerably delayed by World War 1, financial restrictions and compounded by local and international material supply problems from the war. Extensive ballast strengthening was required under the two wharves due to the softness of the sea bed, as below the wharves, the water reaches depths of over 17 metres with another 30+ metres of silt before the solid seabed.
In the early 1980’s, Walsh Bay began its cultural transformation.
Pier 2/3 has been used as a pop-up events space since its closure in the 1960’s. Aside from the temporary nature of these events, Pier 2/3 was generally unused.
In 1983, the state government approved the Vivian Fraser and Richard Wherrett designs to redevelop Wharf 4/5 to facilities suitable for arts companies.
Officially handed over to the Sydney Theatre Company in 1984 and the Sydney Dance Company in 1986, the design was awarded the John Sulman Medal for Public Architecture by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects.
In 2016, Tonkin Zulaikha Greer are appointed as the project architects, with Hassell Studio appointed as architects for the Sydney Theatre Company fit out. The State Significant Development Application was lodged in October 2017, taking nearly 8months to be approved in May 2018 after considerable community and stakeholder consultation.
Richard Crookes Constructions begins construction works with Wharf 4/5 and the Sydney Theatre Company in October 2018.
Pier 2/3 construction commences in November 2019. Pier 2/3 was the second stage of the NSW Government’s redevelopment of the iconic waterfront precinct.
Wharf 4/5 completed in November 2020. Wharf 4/5 is a heritage listed finger wharf in the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct that has been extensively revitalised to provide purpose-built facilities and performance spaces. This included demolition of the former internal structures and spaces and detailed structural and fit out work to create bespoke spaces, tailored to the unique needs of each performing arts company.
Pier 2/3 construction completed in December 2021. The project involved the demolition of the former internal structures and delivery of state-of-the art facilities for the tenants, whilst preserving the existing state significant heritage structure.
You can book performances at the resident arts companies now.
For operations enquiries, contact the Create NSW Precinct Manager on email@example.com
Aerial view of the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct
ACO performance space
‘The Walk’ in the Sydney Theatre Company, Arthur Vay from Sydney Site Photography
ATYP performance space
Bangarra performance and rehearsal space, Arthur Vay from Sydney Site Photography
Main entry stairs in Pier 2/3
Heritage details combined with new
Bell Shakespeare performance space
Pier 2/3 shared foyer
Choirs’ rehearsal space, Arthur Vay from Sydney Site Photography
Sydney Dance Company studio, Arthur Vay from Sydney Site Photography
Walsh Bay Arts Precinct roof feature
Wharf 4/5 entrance
Join the first precinct-wide Open Day at Walsh Bay Arts Precinct this Saturday 8 October 2022 from 10am to 4pm.READ MORE
Pier 2/3 at Walsh Bay Arts Precinct will officially open its doors to the public in March, following the completion of major construction works.READ MORE
The NSW Government today announced the successful completion of Wharf 4/5 of the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct.READ MORE
Construction work as part of the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct redevelopment is progressing well. In late March 2019, stage two construction works commenced.READ MORE
Work on Stage One of the redevelopment of the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct is set to begin now that the NSW Government has signed a contract with Richard Crookes Constructions, Minister for the Arts Don Harwin announced today.READ MORE
Stage one of the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct has begun. There will be a number of changes to the precinct as construction work begins.READ MORE