Parramatta Aquatic Centre’s midcentury-inspired design sits in harmony with its context

Parramatta Aquatic Centre by Grimshaw, ABA, and McGregor Coxall brings the local community together ahead of Sydney’s swimming season

Parramatta Aquatic Centre
(Image credit: Courtesy of Grimshaw)

The grand opening of Parramatta Aquatic Centre (PAC) in the Sydney suburbs is perfectly timed as Australia is gearing up for the summer ahead.

Located at Mays Hill, the traditional lands of the Burramattagal, an inland group of the Dharug people, it is only apt that the new sports attraction was conceived to sit in harmony with the native landscape, a Unesco World Heritage site.

Parramatta Aquatic Centre, aerial view

(Image credit: Courtesy of Grimshaw)

Dive into the Parramatta Aquatic Centre

Collectively designed by Grimshaw, Andrew Burges Architects (ABA), and McGregor Coxall as the landscape architect, the project had longevity at the forefront, not only in terms of limiting the impact on the surrounding environment, but also in terms of a space that will be available and accessible for the local community for generations to come.

The striking ring-shaped design defines the aquatic centre and nods to the curves in modernist architecture. The structure has been sensitively integrated into the land, and is predominantly arranged on a single level, for easy access for its growing, diverse community of users.

Parramatta Aquatic Centre, outdoor swimming pool

(Image credit: Courtesy of Grimshaw)

The 50m outdoor pool is the main focal point of the complex. It allows space for competitive training, while indoors there is a 25m recreational pool, a water playground, gym and spa, and a learn-to-swim pool, which encourages everyone to dive into this public oasis.

PAC is not limited to getting your lengths in, Josh Henderson, Grimshaw’s project director said: ‘The design team, City of Parramatta, and builder have all collaborated to create a valuable community asset that is enjoyable to experience, well made, highly functional and accessible. As a new home to many community groups, the facility will provide vibrant landscaped public spaces for fitness, sport, learn-to-swim classes and for time with friends and family.'

Parramatta Aquatic Centre indoor gym

(Image credit: Courtesy of Grimshaw)

With sustainable architecture swiftly becoming the norm for many architecture studios, the design team decided to make this an obvious non-negotiable aspect of their solution. When designing, they further bolstered the site's natural element across its 30,000 sq m of surrounding landscape by planting 562 new native trees to enhance the existing urban forest. The pool itself is surrounded by trees, which will play a major role in mitigating urban heat.

Connectivity was also key to a successful design, and there is a series of interconnected bike and walking paths intertwined with local plazas and parklands, along with easy access to transport links.

Parramatta Aquatic Centre outdoor pool

(Image credit: Courtesy of Grimshaw)

With this fantastic new facility gearing up for the swimming season ahead, the City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Cr Sameer Pandey said: ‘This is more than just a pool – it’s a place where the community can swim laps in the pool, work out in the gym, relax in the spa, steam and sauna or simply enjoy a coffee in the café. A lot of memories will be made here – of local kids swimming their first lap, of families splashing around together on a long, hot summer day. I can’t wait to open the doors, I think the community will be really impressed when they see and experience Parramatta Aquatic Centre.'

Parramatta Aquatic Centre interior wood-lined space

(Image credit: Courtesy of Grimshaw)


Tianna Williams is the Editorial Executive at Wallpaper*. Before joining the team in 2023, she has contributed to BBC Wales, SurfGirl Magazine, and Parisian Vibe, with work spanning from social media content creation to editorial. Now, her role covers writing across varying content pillars for Wallpaper*.