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2014/70/1 Collection of design and presentation models (20), Prince Alfred Park Pool, designed and made by Neeson Murcutt Architects, Australia, 2006-2011. Click to enlarge.

Architectural models, Prince Alfred Park Pool designed by Neeson Murcutt, 2013

This collection of models is significant for several reasons:

It demonstrates the continuing centrality of model making to architectural design despite the development of 3D imaging and design software. The Powerhouse holds a substantial collection of architectural models documenting the work of several prominent architects and the design of numerous significant structures. However this collection comprises mainly presentation and display models rather than those created as part of the …


Object No.


Object Statement

Collection of design and presentation models (20), Prince Alfred Park Pool, designed and made by Neeson Murcutt Architects, Australia, 2006-2011

Physical Description

Twenty models documenting the design history of Prince Alfred Park Pool, Sydney, completed May 2013.


No marks



Rachel Neeson was educated at Bethlehem College, Ashfield and studied architecture at the University of Sydney, graduating in 1993 with the University Medal.

Neeson worked with Hill Thalis Architects as well as founding her own practice. In 2002 she was awarded a Board of Architects travelling scholarship and completed a Masters of Architecture in Barcelona. She formed Neeson Murcutt Architects in 2004 with her late partner Nicholas Murcutt, who died in 2011.

Neeson Murcutt established a reputation primarily through domestic commissions and in this field its projects have received numerous awards including the National AIA Robin Boyd Award (2011) and the NSW AIA Wilkinson Award (2007, 2009). It was also awarded for its shipwreck viewing platforms at Sydney Olympic Park while its work was twice exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

Prince Alfred Park Pool is Neeson Murcutt's first major public commission. It has recently been commissioned to design a new visitor centre for Sydney Opera House.



Prince Alfred Park Pool, Surry Hills is one of several new or redeveloped pools commissioned by the City of Sydney during recent decades. Other pools are the Ian Thorpe Pool, Ultimo, Cook and Phillip Pool, East Sydney, Victoria Park Pool, Glebe and the Boy Charlton Pool at The Domain.

A 50 metre pool was constructed in 1958 in Prince Alfred Park on the site of the 1870 Exhibition Building, demolished to make way for the pool. An enclosed ice skating rink was built next to the pool; this closed about 1998. By this time the pool buildings were in a state of disrepair and the complex was sometimes described as 'Redfern beach'. The pool closed in 2008.

During 2005 a master plan for the park and pool was completed by Clouston Associates. A modified version of this plan was adopted by the City Council in December 2005. In 2006 Sue Barnsley Design was engaged as landscape designer for the park and Neeson Murcutt as architect of the pool complex, to be built on the original pool site.

Following extensive public consultation the City Council endorsed designs for the park and the pool in October 2006 and a Development Application for the pool redevelopment was submitted in December that year. However the DA lapsed following objections from Councillors to elements of this design, which featured pavilion-style buildings at the northern (Central Station) and eastern (Chalmers Street) sides of the pool. The architects were instructed to 'achieve a more lightweight and transparent appearance appropriate to the park setting', to minimise the area of buildings, to re orientate the pool entry towards the east and south, among other issues.

The original brief dictated community and recreational spaces as well as pool-specific ones; these were discarded in the revised design in which a smaller building set on the eastern side of the pool was to be partly concealed by a 'folded landscape' of planted earth covering its roof. As Philip Goad has written, from the Georgian Cleveland House facing Chalmers Street, 'the historic panorama has been re-created. The pool and its buildings are invisible. The vista is 'natural', a pastoral landscape of trees and a grassy field.' (Architecture Australia, 2013). The pool interprets the park's history in other ways, notably the carnival character of the toddler area.

Several other changes were made to the design which was was endorsed by Council and a DA was granted in April 2008.

In 2009 the City of Sydney added a low-carbon trigeneration plant to the pool brief, to be contained within the pool building. This necessitated further alterations to the design. Chimneys and space were designed for the plant although the plant was not installed after the City shelved its trigeneration network plans in 2012. However the chimneys remain a feature of the design, decorated to a colour scheme by art consultancy Lymesmith.

The pool and park redevelopment was scheduled for completion in 2011, but construction of the pool did not start until 2010 and was further delayed by the discovery of asbestos-contaminated soil in the park and exceptionally wet weather during 2011. The pool was completed in early 2013. It has already received glowing praise in the design and mainstream media as well as design awards including the 2014 Good Design Award for architecture and interiors.

In June 2014 the pool design received the NSW AIA Sulman Medal for public architecture and the Lloyd Rees Award for urban design.


Credit Line

Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by Rachel Neeson in memory of Nicholas Murcutt, 2014

Acquisition Date

27 June 2014

Cite this Object


Architectural models, Prince Alfred Park Pool designed by Neeson Murcutt, 2013 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 25 June 2021, <https://ma.as/476020>


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