Darling Harbour Woodward Water Feature

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Location
33°52'23"S
151°11'59"E
Country
 Australia
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Description

The Darling Harbour Woodward Water Feature is a heritage-listed water fountain located at Harbour Promenade, Darling Harbour, City of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It was designed by Robert Woodward and built from 1986 to 1988 by Melocco Pty Ltd. It is also known as Water Feature at Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour; Spiral Fountain and Darling Harbour. The property is owned by Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, an agency of the Government of New South Wales. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 27 June 2014.

History

Darling Harbour Water Feature was officially opened in 1988 it was designed by Robert Woodward , an architect and fountain designer.Robert Raymond Woodward (1923-2010) was born in Wentworthville in Sydney's western suburbs, the son of a public service accountant. Bob attended Granville Central Technical School, then Sydney Technical High School with a view to becoming a manual arts teacher. His career path was interrupted by the advent of World War II when Woodward joined the army.He was initially stationed with the Lachlan Macquarie 54th Regiment in Bathurst, then at Victoria Barracks where he completed an armoury course at East Sydney Technical College. Woodward later explained that being in the army at a young age had taught him to be responsible for the work he was doing and how to give instructions effectively. It also opened up the opportunity to study architecture at the University of Sydney after the war as part of the huge post-war repatriation intake of ex-servicemen.Woodward commenced his architectural degree in 1947 and was impressed by teachers such as Leslie Wilkinson, George Molnar and Lloyd Rees. As a student he worked for Harry "Pergola" Divola and Peddle Thorp & Walker, while in 1950 he represented Australia in the 440 yard hurdles at New Zealand's British Empire Games. After graduation in 1952 he joined the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and worked briefly for Peddle Thorp & Walker, detailing industrial buildings, but soon headed off for England. He toured Europe with friends from Sydney before settling in Finland where he was privileged to work for a year with Alvar Aalto. He also spent another year in Finland working for the firm of Viljo Revell.Woodward considered that architectural education in Finland was impressive in the way that it demanded that its students actually build structures. He considered that "architects need to understand materials" and was impressed by 'Aalto's multi-disciplinary approach where landscape is involved in the building, and interior design, lighting, furnishings, fabrics... I think Aalto's main contribution, and this is to put it very simplistically ... was that he was able to get the best of Bauhaus as well as organic work... Aalto's principles, as stated by him, are that essentially everything in architecture is related to biology. If you take a leaf from a tree, for example, you can see... design principles which should apply to architecture itself. The first item is cellular structure which Aalto saw as the cells being spatial - not physical elements put together but spaces, and a leaf is made up of a whole multitude of similar cells. They mightn't be the same but they are similar and from one family. The way they are structured together is a flexible combination of those elements - cellular structure, flexible combination and the repetition...'Woodward returned to Sydney in 1954 where he had some job offers from big firms, but instead formed a small partnership with Phil Taranto in Bankstown, they were later joined by Scott Wallace. They worked on small scale sites like a fruit shop in Bankstown, where they rationalized the work spaces, designed light fittings and introduced mirrored walls to increase the impression of light and plenty - innovations which were widely "copied and mass produced".In 1959, Woodward submitted a design to a City of Sydney competition to construct a fountain in Kings Cross, mainly as a professional "design exercise" for himself. He won the competition in the name of his firm Woodward & Taranto and went on to build the El Alamein Fountain. This was an immediate success and led to the gradual reorientation of his career into national and international prominence as a fountain designer. In 1968 the Woodward Taranto Wallace partnership was dissolved and Woodward continued alone as a sole practitioner with a focus on fountain design, joining the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects in 1989. He is responsible for many of the most prominent and admired fountains in Australia.In his oral history interview with Hazel de Berg in 1972, Woodward stated: 'I like water very much, it's a fine medium to work in, a little difficult of course, one can't put it in a lathe or shape it as you do with metals, or forge it or cast it, but those difficulties themselves are what give it its main charm, I think, it's a medium to work in, a sculptural medium, it has form, it has transparency, it reflects light, has movement. It has constantly changing form, although one can control it. One can control the general form and let natural variations of water flow or wind or lighting variations give added charm and character whilst still directing the general form. ' Woodward suggested that he didn't restrict himself to fountain design, as he explained to De Berg: 'The reason I do mostly fountain work and sculptural work now is . . . [it] is the most interesting work that is available. I'm working free-lance and I don't mind what the work is as long as it is interesting and I can achieve some result. . . there is a whole range of things that can be done and fields I would like to work in. As an example, there is the transport system, I would dearly love to have a commission just to re-plan in all respects our transport system for this state. . . The limitations, of course, are political and commercial ones, they'd be the ones I'd find it very difficult to overcome but if it was just from a design point of view only, I'd be delighted to take on a commission of that nature'. The Darling Harbour Water Feature outside the Sydney Exhibition Centre completed in 1988 was one of Woodward's most important works. It was a beautiful piece of design with its interplay of water, light and surface texture. It is both an irresistibly interactive water element and beautiful spiral sculptural form.Woodward was the recipient of many awards and honours in his lifetime, including the NSW Institute of Architect's Civic Design Award for the El Alamein Fountain in 1964, and in 1991 ACT Chapter RAIA Canberra Medallion, for New Parliament House, the 1991 NSW Chapter Civic Design Merit Award for Darling Harbour, the 1991 RAIA Walter Burley Griffin Award for Darling Harbour, the 1991 RAIA Civic Design Award for Darling Harbour, and the 1992 AILA National Awards in Landscape Architecture Civic Design Project Award.In 1987 he was appointed a Member of Order of Australia for his services to architecture and fountain design.

Selected works by Robert Woodward

El Alamein Memorial Fountain Kings Cross, Sydney 1959 St Paul's Church Wentworthville, Sydney 1964 Alcoa Forecourt Fountain San Francisco 1967 Archibald Memorial Fountain, Restoration of 1933 fountain, Hyde Park, Sydney 1968 Bank of California Fountain Portland, Oregon 1969 Geyser Room Restaurant, New Zealand Pavilion, Expo 70 Osaka 1970 Tupperware Forecourt Fountain Orlando, Florida 1970 Chifley Square Fountain Sydney 1971 Grace Memorial Fountain, Roselands Campsie, Sydney 1972 Berger Foundation Fountain Minneapolis 1975 Wall of Water, Sydney Square Town Hall, Sydney 1976 Blue Wave Ceramic Sculpture, Bondi Junction Plaza Sydney 1977 Mini El Alamein Fountain, Perak Turf Club Ipoh, Malaysia 1978 Canberra Times Fountain Canberra 1979 Forecourt Cascades, High Court of Australia Canberra 1980 Five Islands Fountain donated by the Illawarra Mercury, Wollongong 1981 G.J. Coles Fountain, Parliament Gardens, Melbourne 1981 Lane Cove Plaza Proposal Lane Cove, Sydney 1981 Mount Street Doughnuts North Sydney 1982 New South Wales Parliament House Courtyard Fountain Sydney 1983 Lyric Theatre Fountain, Queensland Performing Arts Centre Brisbane 1984 Palmerston City Square Fountain Darwin 1985 Pacific Bell Forecourt Fountain San Ramon, California 1988 Australian Parliament House Forecourt Canberra 1988 Darling Harbour Water Feature outside Convention Centre Sydney 1988 Modular Spiral Stair, precast Bankstown

Description

The Woodward Water Feature is located in Sydney's Darling Harbour waterfront promenade. It is bounded by the Sydney Convention Centre to the West, the Western Distributor to the south and Cockle Bay to the east.The fountain is a spiral water feature in an unassuming saucer-shaped depression in the bare harbour-side concourse; a shape cleanly cut, as if by an auger, into the pavement; ten spiraling paths for water and two for people; a mesmerizing flow of shallow rippling water.

Hydraulic principles

Water flows from the header at the top of each of the ten spirals as smooth, accelerating supercritical flow. When maximum velocity for the 1 in 16 gradient and roughness coefficient has been reached, the flow becomes constant and is therefore critical, a condition of least possible stability. In this unstable condition water is easily sculpted by minor external forces. The weir configuration and drag disturbance from the sides of the spiral create waves which travel downstream. The waves move across the spiral at an angle and reflect from the opposite side; crisscross interference patterns result. The wavelength is constant and sympathetic group wave action develops and continues down the spiral. This wave action is an original creation which probably does not occur in nature.The 360-square-metre (3,900 sq ft) of crisscross wave action over 3000 identical weir stones is created by the energy from a 5 litres per second (66 imp gal/min) total flow, the same as from a domestic swimming pool filter.

Condition

As at 22 July 2013, the fabric is in good condition.The Darling Harbour Water Feature is a highly intact example of a rare fountain form designed by Robert Woodward. Woodward created a water flow condition that is easily sculpted by minor external forces. The weir configuration and drag disturbance from the sides of the spiral create waves which travel downstream. The waves move across the spiral at an angle and reflect from the opposite side; crisscross interference patterns result. The wavelength is constant and sympathetic group wave action develops and continues down the spiral. This wave action is an original creation which probably does not occur in nature.

Further information

Robert Raymond Woodward , F.R.A.I.A. B.Arch (Sydney) A.A.I.L.A. (1923-2010) won the following awards for his Darling Harbour Water Feature: 1991 NSW Chapter RAIA Civic Design Merit Award 1991 National RAIA Walter Burley Griffin Award 1992 AILA National Civic Design Award

Heritage listing

As at 26 May 2014, the Darling Harbour Woodward Water Feature is of state significance as it demonstrates aesthetic significance at the state level as a spectacular fountain and an outstanding work of modern movement design in water and stone located in an uninterrupted plane of the west Darling Harbour promenade. Completed in 1988, the fountain design was acknowledged as one of exemplary architectural design for its period, winning several awards including the Walter Burley Griffin Award of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and the NSW Chapter Civic Design Award in 1991 and the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects National Civic Design Award in 1992.The Darling Harbour water feature is of state significance as it has special associations with its designer Robert Raymond Woodward AM (1923-2010), a notable architect and a World War II Veteran whose career as a fountain designer was of national and international prominence.Together with other iconic buildings at the Darling Harbour it is associated with the historically significant 1988 NSW Bicentennial celebrations.Darling Harbour Woodward Water Feature was listed on the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 27 June 2014 having satisfied the following criteria.The place is important in demonstrating the course, or pattern, of cultural or natural history in New South Wales. The Darling Harbour Spiral Water Feature is a rare example of outstanding fountain design and representative of excellence in Australian modern movement design of the mid twentieth century. Together with other iconic buildings and landscape features at Darling Harbour it is associated with the 1988 Bicentennial Celebrations.The place has a strong or special association with a person, or group of persons, of importance of cultural or natural history of New South Wales's history. The Darling Harbour Woodward water feature is of state significance as it has special associations with its designer Bob Woodward AM (1923-2010), a notable architect and a World War II Veteran whose career as a fountain designer was of national and international prominence.The place is important in demonstrating aesthetic characteristics and/or a high degree of creative or technical achievement in New South Wales. The Darling Harbour Water Feature is of state aesthetic significance as a spectacular fountain and outstanding work of modernist design in water. Its significance is enhanced by its location in the uninterrupted plane of the West Darling Harbour promenade.The fountain was acknowledged as one of exemplary architectural design for its period, in winning both the Walter Burley Griffin Award of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and NSW Chapter Civic Design Award in 1991. In 1992 it was awarded the Institute of Landscape Architects Civic Design Award.The place has a strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group in New South Wales for social, cultural or spiritual reasons. It does not appear to meet this criterion of State significance.The place has potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of the cultural or natural history of New South Wales. It does not appear to meet this criterion of State significance.The place possesses uncommon, rare or endangered aspects of the cultural or natural history of New South Wales. The Darling Harbour Woodward Water Feature is of state significance for its rarity as a reflective water feature and fountain in NSW. It is beautiful piece of original design with its interplay of water, light and surface texture. It is both an irresistibly interactive water element and beautiful spiral sculptural form.The place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a class of cultural or natural places/environments in New South Wales. The Darling Harbour Water Feature is of state significance as an example of outstanding fountain design and representative of excellence in Australian modern movement design of the mid twentieth century.
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