Barangaroo Northern Cove

“Transforming one of Sydney's most iconic waterfront sites”

Executive Summary

Working in close collaboration with prominent US landscape architect Peter Walker and local landscape architects Johnson Pilton Walker, Fleetwood helped to transform the former industrial waterfront site at the northern edge of Barangaroo into an inspired natural space for community activities and recreation. Officially named Nawi Cove (‘Nawi’ is a Sydney aboriginal word for the small bark canoes that were used in the harbour by the local Indigenous residents including ‘Barangaroo’, the wife of Bennelong), the award-winning transformation included recreating the foreshore’s original shape and elevation, while also adding a boardwalk promenade, public deck, jetty and a pontoon for small vessels.








Design Partners

PWP Landscape Architecture

Scope of Work

Deliver, Detail, Develop, Discover

Fleetwood Involvement

Working closely with the client and landscape architect, Fleetwood used its DesignExecute2™ delivery model to take their original designs and make them more efficient whilst maintaining the overall aesthetic vision. Our technical design and structural engineering teams helped to identify and then visualise the most economical solutions, providing accurate budget and timing estimates. Into the construction phase, the entire substructure was fabricated off-site in our workshop, before the project was finished through on-site collaborations with teams of stonemasons, carpenters and other civil contractors to ensure the design vision was achieved – on time and on budget.

More Project Information


The architect’s vision called for robust, masculine and honest design principles, featuring native timbers and painted steel that complemented the surrounding design aesthetic of the wider Northern Cove precinct. A high level of craftsmanship was required, including sleek, clean detailing between the boardwalk & the sandstone wall, which followed a continuous arc to create a ‘floating’ aesthetic.


Incorporating the boardwalk promenade, public deck, jetty and pontoon seamlessly into the overall Northern Cove design was far from straightforward and required careful planning. All materials needed to work harmoniously with existing materials used in the parkland, while also meeting strict Government and Barangaroo Development Authority requirements. Considerable thought was also required to determine how best (and where) to physically assemble the different elements and structures to maximise efficiencies and minimise disruptions, with multiple teams of tradespeople working side-by-side, on the water’s edge. One of the biggest specific challenges was how to coordinate and drive the pontoon’s piles – a task ultimately carried out by a rig mounted on barge inside the cove itself.


The award-winning project boasts many innovations. One was the installation of a concealed power supply to service the extended deck, housed discreetly in one of the large timber block seats. Fleetwood also innovated with the substructure of the boardwalk, simplifying the design and shortening the construction time on-site. The challenge with the piling was the fact that the cove had been recreated with 600mm of anti-scour rock placed in strategic locations by hydro profiling. Moving or disrupting the rock would mean compromising the integrity of the scour protection, so we used divers to assist in moving and replacing the rock in the pile locations.


  • Foreshore amphitheatre
  • Extended deck for public performances
  • Hardwood native timber block seats
  • Pontoon with aluminium gangway

  • Spotted gum
  • Grey ironbark
  • Unseasoned hardwood
  • Sandstone
  • Mild steel
  • Non marine grade paint system
  • Aluminium

Sitting, quite literally, on the edge of Sydney Harbour, several key site risks needed to be taken into account. Managing these required meticulous construction detailing to ensure all work was completed safely in the often unpredictable marine environment. As just one example, all contractors working within 2 metres of the water’s edge had to be equipped with a personal flotation device (PFD). The site also held a daily toolbox talk that all contractors had to attend.


The sustainability of the timber source was of great importance to the job. Lendlease had stringent controls around the chain of custody to meet both their commitment to the BDA and the Green Rating for the whole project. All timber was sourced from sustainably grown forests in North Queensland compliant with the Australian Forestry Standard and the PEFC international standard. The chain of custody, from order to delivery, formed part of the quality hold points and final hand over documents.


With its public boardwalk, lawn and amphitheatre, Northern Cove is a place where Barangaroo visitors and workers can meet, relax and enjoy a variety of small-scale public performances, seven days a week.


Northern Cove provides a safe, inviting and easily-accessible public space just moments from one of Sydney’s most bustling commercial and tourist precincts. It allows the public to interact with the history of Sydney’s foreshore and the contribution this area has had to the building of the nation, whilst paying homage to the local Indigenous peoples and the site’s previous uses.


Award Name Location Year
World Architecture News (WAN) Waterfront Award Barangaroo Northern Cove 2015
NSW AILA Presidents Choice Award Barangaroo Northern Cove 2015