Stadia Precinct, Sydney Olympic Park

Yerrabingin and Hassell brought together a team of Indigenous designers, artists and storytellers with strong community connections to deliver an authentic landscape, connected to the oldest living culture in the world.

On the traditional lands of the Wangal people, the Sydney Olympic Park Stadia precinct was the beating heart of the 2000 Sydney Olympic and Paralympic Games, and is a place of work, play and now home for tens of thousands of people. The world’s biggest pop concerts and sporting events happen here, and the place buzzes with stories and emotion.

Together with Yerrabingin, an Australian practice specialising in collaborative design thinking and Indigenous knowledge, we designed a new public realm for the precinct that harnesses the inherent energy, emotions and stories while focusing on the development of Indigenous design principles and narratives.

The design process – led by Yerrabingin – was unlike a standard consultation approach. It was fluid, with continual reiteration and outcomes taken to a broader stakeholder group as a form of user testing to ultimately design a welcoming place for the communities that will live and work nearby.

Our proposal – a finalist in the Stadia Precinct Public Design Competition – transforms the red space into green space, an existing expansive paved site into a gardened space for all seasons, featuring quiet nooks and larger spaces for play, exercise, performance and dining. 

As the green heart’ of the precinct, the Stadia Gardens balance the enormous scale of the stadium, drawing people in through arteries flanked with gardens and trees and sending them out replenished and energised.


Sydney Olympic Park Authority


Wangal Country
Sydney, Australia






80,000 sqm


Yerrabingin, Virtual Songlines, Arup, Georgina Reid, Alison Page, Tim Bishop, Dwane Naja’ Bannon-Harrison, Kristi Lee, Michael Hromek, Danièle Hromek, Matt McKay, Aunty Ali, Matthew Fellingham

Design team

Yerrabingin: Clarence Slockee, Christian Hampson
Virtual Songlines: Brett Leavy
Hassell: Sharon Wright, Jon Hazelwood, Anthony Thevenon

Indigenous knowledge is not a contained add-on to this design process – an artwork, motif or some words. It’s the beginning, middle and end of this design story.

The land is our mother, our teacher and our library. This landscape will inspire the next generation of environmental custodians, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, the future of our mother earth.”

Christian Hampson, Yerrabingin
60% green cover
95% site rainwater captured
100% existing materials recycled on-site

Grounded in Indigenous knowledge, our sustainability vision for the Stadia Precinct is about caring for Country from a place of humility, reverence and connection, continuing a 60,000 year-old legacy of environmental stewardship.

- The precinct gardens and tree canopy provide movement and seasonality as well as habitat, shade, and heat island effect reduction

- Proposals to recycle 100% of existing materials on-site, including retention of the original Olympics paving, with excess re-used for landscape structures like garden mounds, drainage layers and rammed earth walls

- Smart water management that captures and reuses 95% of the site’s rainwater, with garden beds providing passive treatment and irrigation

- Improved pedestrian and cycling access, with clear and legible routes and connections to public transport and adjacent sites

- Significant planting improves air quality and storm water runoff in the environment

- Use of green’ concrete, made of recycled aggregate and water with at least 65% reduction in Portland cement, with embodied carbon offset by planting

Inspired by the site’s history, our design approach adapts and retains existing elements – recycling the millennium red zone’ paving and refreshing the lighting towers with climbing plants. New garden areas dedicated to Olympic Bouquet plants also repurpose existing artwork commemorating the Games. 

The planting is an art form that comprises part of the Aboriginal interpretation of the site. A naturalistic style, that’s native and ever-changing, showcases textures and an emotional connection to the land. Edible, foraging gardens would be maintained by Yerrabingin and used for education. 

Virtual Songlines would create virtual heritage experiences to immerse visitors in the pre-colonial landscape. There’s also a café and restaurants in a garden setting, and playgrounds co-designed with children in workshops.

Yerrabingin, which employs young Aboriginal horticulturalists, led a deeply collaborative design process through design jams’ with community members, stakeholders and developers.

The team included artists, ecologists, architects, designers and game designers, supported by Hassell. Rather than a final design, we presented a framework that would include wider voices to the design process. 

We also collaborated with Virtual Songlines, an Aboriginal-owned company that maps the pre-colonial condition of Australian sites through GIS and various sources and uses gaming software to transform these visualisations into an immersive, three-dimensional experience. Virtual Songlines recreated the pre-colonial landscape of the stadium surrounds to the nearest water body, Haslem’s Creek.

Ultimately, the project was designed to support ongoing education and employment. The framework considered whether it could fund an on-site nursery, employ full time gardeners, run cultural education programs for young people and attract volunteers. Aboriginal-owned businesses were considered throughout the construction process, from making rammed earth walls and seed sourcing to furniture making. 

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