HMAS Platypus – a submarine base reborn


Sub Base Platypus, a new urban waterfront park is emerging on the shores of Neutral Bay.

The former HMAS Platypus site at North Sydney will be revitalized and transformed into an urban park, welcoming visitors to a series of connected waterfront spaces with a creative community hub at its heart.


Closed to the public for more than 150 years, this site will become a landmark cultural destination. The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust adopted a Management Plan for the site in December 2016, which sets out a vision for a public park incorporating culture, recreation and commercial commerce. Platypus was formerly the Australian Navy base for six Oberon Class submarines, based there from 1967 to 1999. The renewal program brings together the team of ASPECT Studios Sydney on public domain and landscape, lazhnimmo architects on building adaptation and new structures and wayfinding specialists Urban&Public on historic interpretive elements, including the recently unveiled Submariners Memorial.


After years of preparatory works including a major remediation program, community consultation and demolition of a three-storey building to open up public access, the renewal will start to take shape in earnest from late 2107. “We’ve entered an exciting phase for the project and will now start to see the Platypus Management Plan come to life,” says Mary Darwell, CEO of Sydney Harbour Federation Trust.



There are two distinct levels to the site and the master plan uses these to enhance local street connections to the waterfront, parts of which have been inaccessible to the public for than 150 years. All site entrances to the park will converge at a new node called ‘Arrival Square’, where a restaurant will enjoy peerless park and water views. The smaller, upper level will have an entry into Arrival Square, with a suspended staircase and elevator down to the larger sea-level park. From here a new over-water footbridge links to Kesterton Park to the south, with ferry connections to Circular Quay, Manly and Pyrmont.


The design of the public domain references the site heritage with a ‘light touch’ with material choices being inspired from the former industrial uses of the site. A project milestone was reached in August 2017 with the unveiling of the Submariners’ Memorial at the waterfront level, reinterpreted by ASPECT’s Urban & Public team. “This project requires a considered approach to ensure the site retains its appealing industrial rawness whilst making it safe for the public to enjoy” says Kate Luckraft, Studio Director of ASPECT Studios.

3D model: courtesy of lazhnimmo architects.
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