Bradfield City Centre: A Climate-Responsive Masterplan Spearheads Green Transformation in Western Sydney

Bradfield City Centre Render TURNER
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Crafting the framework for a new city entails a multitude of challenges, especially when confronted with the realities of climate change. This was the task facing the masterplan team entrusted with designing the Bradfield City Centre, set to redefine Sydney’s western skyline.

Recent studies from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) reveal a concerning trend: during summer, temperatures in Sydney’s western suburbs can spike up to 10 degrees higher than coastal areas. In light of this, the goal for the Bradfield City Centre masterplan was clear: to create a cooler, greener urban space that matches or exceeds the standards of livability found in other parts of Sydney.

The Bradfield City Centre is poised to become the focal point of the expanding Western Parkland City, centered around the upcoming Western Sydney International Airport. With a Metro station and Central Park as its anchors, this development will transform 114 hectares into a mix of residential, retail, and commercial spaces, all seamlessly integrated with ample public greenery.


Designed by a consortium including TURNER, Hatch Roberts Day, and Turf Design Studio, the masterplan prioritizes the integration of nature and architecture. Through strategies like tree canopy coverage and water features, the aim is to mitigate the urban heat island effect while fostering a cohesive urban environment that harmonizes with the natural landscape.

Dan Szwaj, director at TURNER, emphasized that the design process was shaped by collaboration with Indigenous communities, highlighting that the notion of a ‘blank canvas’ is rooted in colonial perspectives.

“Our planning framework started with a study of the site’s topography, waterways and existing trees. The site is on Cabrogal and Dharug Country and collaboration with First Nations people as integral members of the master planning team was at the heart of our approach.”

“We created a green loop that moves through the city in a way that acknowledges the landscape, its rich lines and its connection to water,” said Szwaj. “It relates to the area’s First Nations history and will have endemic planting.”

^Dan Szwaj - Director at TURNER Studio (Image: Lindy Johnson)
^Dan Szwaj – Director at TURNER Studio (Image: Lindy Johnson)

The loop, serving as a learning journey, seamlessly integrates with Central Park and adjacent water bodies through a network of smaller parks. Informed by First Nations cultural principles, the planting choices, materials, artwork, lighting, signage, and language reflect indigenous values.

Situated eastward is Thompsons Creek, while Moore Gully lies to the south, boasting the city’s prominent parkland replete with captivating wetlands and verdant foliage. A designated swimming area at the edge of Moore Gully promises respite for both residents and visitors seeking relief from the summer heat.

^The Bradfield City Centre Site Plan in Western Sydney (Image: NSW Government)
^The Bradfield City Centre Site Plan in Western Sydney (Image: NSW Government)

In Western Sydney, where summers scorch and winters chill, the strategic placement of tree canopy assumes significance. Acting as natural regulators, trees offer shade during warmer months and invite sunlight during colder seasons, ensuring a balanced climate for pedestrians. Moreover, water management practices, including recycling and the integration of swales, not only address environmental concerns but also serve as a testament to the site’s commitment to sustainable stewardship.

Built form is guided by two principles: balance and flexibility.

“Cities grow over a long time and no one can predict how they will be influenced. It was important to develop a framework with the flexibility to evolve and change. We focused on getting the right balance between landscape, nature and the intensity a city needs,” explained Szwaj.

^The Bradfield City Centre Moore Gully Swimming Pool Zone (Image: TURNER)
^The Bradfield City Centre Moore Gully Swimming Pool Zone (Image: TURNER)

Due to its proximity to the airport, building heights are capped at 15 stories. Strategic building placement and massing are designed to optimize air circulation and sunlight penetration, aiming to decrease energy consumption, mitigate overshadowing, and enhance overall livability.

Employing a ‘loose fit’ approach and slim building envelopes ensures versatility, accommodating various functions such as commercial, residential, and educational spaces within the development.

Pedestrian laneways will enhance the city with exceptional permeability, facilitating effortless movement on foot or via an extensive network of cycle paths. Strategically positioned, the entire city is easily accessible from the Metro station, encouraging minimal reliance on cars.

“The challenge with anything is changing people’s perception of what a place is now and what it could be in the future,” concluded Szwaj. “Why would people want to work, live or set up a business here? Our overarching intent was to create a connected, contemporary urban parkland that will become an international destination and a place where people want to spend time. We look forward to watching it grow and evolve in response to its new community.”

Located at the heart of the Western Sydney Aerotropolis and with a focus on climate responsiveness, the masterplan for Bradfield City Centre sets a new standard for urban design, poised to serve as a model for future city developments.

Note: The information presented in this article is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal, financial, or professional advice. While we make every effort to fact-check and verify the information presented, we cannot guarantee its accuracy or completeness. Readers are encouraged to independently verify any information they find on our website and to consult with relevant professionals before making any decisions based on the information presented. The Australian Development Review does not own the rights to the information included within this article, and furthermore, there is no infringement intended from the included text and images within.

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