A rain harvesting system. An urban beach and boardwalk. Sunken pools among rehabilitated wetlands. A moonlight cinema. These are just some of the design ideas that have surfaced from the City of Sydney’s Green Square Design Competition for Gunyama Park and the proposed Aquatic Centre.

Five Sydney architecture firms, out of 144 local and international applicants, have been announced as the finalists of the competition. They are Andrew Burns Architects, Cullinan Ivanov Partnership, CHROFI and McGregor Coxall, Andrew Burges Architects and TYP-TOP Studio.

The aquatic centre and park will form part of the $8 billion Green Square project, Australia’s largest urban development. It will revamp the once-industrial area to deliver 20,000 new homes and 22,000 new jobs by 2030. The City of Sydney has committed $440 million over the next 10 years to deliver infrastructure and community facilities such as a new library, public art, plaza and a creative hub.

Each design scheme proposes recreational green spaces and plans to rejuvenate the habitats that were lost in Zetland during its industrial expansion. Located along Joynton Avenue, the City of Sydney envisages the precinct becoming an all-inclusive physical activity hub that will meet the active lifestyle of Green Square’s growing community.

An independent, expert jury will judge the competition. During the second stage of judging over the next 10 weeks, the jury will see more-detailed designs before announcing the winner later in the year.

“It’s really fabulous the City of Sydney is sponsoring a competition to encourage innovative design for its community,” says Carey Lyon, director of Melbourne-based practice Lyons and competition jury chair. “All five finalists are innovative concepts that will bring vibrant character to the local community in Green Square. We’re looking forward to seeing how each of them develops in the next stage.”