Sydney Airport International Forecourt

Our design for the Sydney Airport International Forecourt transforms the visitor arrival and departure experience via an immersive landscape that embodies the spirit of Sydney.

The revitalised public space sets a new industry benchmark for a First Nations design for Australia’s most traversed public space. Challenging the conventional approach of a Connection with Country process, a three-tiered First Nations approach ─ which puts social value at the forefront of the design ─ was developed specifically for the Sydney Airport International Forecourt. This included the project’s co-design, delivery and ongoing maintenance by First Nations organisations.

The project saw us undertake a co-design process with Jiwah, a First Nations cultural landscape and design company. First Nations-owned Imbue Studios oversaw the construction phase. Indigenous-led not-for-profit group Wildflower Gardens for Good was responsible for installing the naturally designed planting areas and conducting ongoing maintenance. Local group Gujaga Foundation then guided the embedded cultural language and interpretation elements throughout the paving and seating.

The unique proposition of this project from design, install and care for this space allows Indigenous knowledge and talent to shine while creating opportunities for our young people to be involved in high-profile, beautifully designed collaborative projects that open doors to real reconciliation.”

─ Roman Deguchi, Co-founder, Wildflower Gardens for Good

The design of the Sydney Airport International Forecourt began with prioritising large zones of planting and lawn covering the site with key paths of travel and central focal points carefully carved out of the planting areas. The forecourt’s general arrangement is configured to feel like a relaxed local Sydney bush setting, with all spaces framed by landscape.

Passengers are greeted with a place that is not only defined by the tones and textures of the surrounding landscape but also the culture that has cared for this Country for thousands of years,” says Principal Jason Cuffe. It provides an ecologically rich planting palette that supports insects and pollinators like bees and butterflies, transforming this transport interchange into a space that is defined by landscape.”

Sydney Airport International Forecourt is a genuine exemplar of a First Nations design and delivery method. It sets a new industry benchmark in how projects, designers and clients can work collaboratively and be led by Country, while ensuring a perpetual connection to Country.


Sydney Airport


Gamayngal, Bideagal, Gweagal, Gadigal and Gadhungal Country
Sydney, Australia






9,500 sqm


Jiwah, Open Life Designs, Imbue Studios, Wildflower Gardens for Good, Gujaga Foundation


Jason Cuffe, Chris O’Brien, Andrew Ewington, Anthony Charlesworth, Jackson Hill, Michael White


Simon Wood

Every year, millions of people will walk through the forecourt area, and the end result from Hassell has exceeded our expectations. In the short time it has been open, we’ve already seen tourists flock to the area to get their first fabulous photo in Sydney.”

─ Lisa Airth, Manager Specialist Design, Sydney Airport

Several key sustainability initiatives underpin the design of the forecourt, including:

  • An ecologically rich, Country-led planting palette that supports pollinators and increases plant density and diversity per square metre.
  • Social value: the project has supported the growth of the local First Nations design and construction industry through the ongoing engagement of Jiwah, Imbue Studios and Wildflower Gardens for Good while sensitively responding to place. This included the co-design, delivery and ongoing maintenance of the Sydney Airport International Forecourt by First Nations organisations, ensuring that those who fly into and out of Sydney have a memorable visitor experience underpinned by and celebrating Country.
  • The newly created central plaza supports nearby businesses within the airport, which use it to host events. It also serves as a green space for local workers and enables major events aligned with the broader Sydney calendar ─ such as Sculptures by the Sea, Mardi Gras and Chinese New Year ─ to be exhibited in the forecourt.
12,500 native plants
>55 different plant species
x3 tiered First Nations approach