A hidden historic oasis with sunken garden in Sydney
Who would have thought that there is an oasis for relaxation amidst the busy Oxford Street and shops in Paddington, an inner-city eastern suburb of Sydney?
Paddington Reservoir Gardens or Walter Read Reserve
The Paddington Reservoir Gardens, also known as Walter Read Reserve, is an award winning garden designed by heritage architect and landscape architect, Tonkin Zulaikha Greer and James Mather Delaney. They had brilliantly incorporated modern design into this historical site which was formerly a water reservoir from 1866 to 1899. It was used as water storage to supply water from Botany Bay Swamps to suburbs in Sydney. The reservoir was built with two underground chambers on the east and west measuring 1000 square-meter each.
Following decommissioning of the reservoir in 1899, the facilities were used for pipe storage by the Water Board. It was also used as motor vehicle storage by the Water Board's Motor branch.
In 1926, several timber columns were removed and replaced by steel beams at the eastern chamber to make room for additional garaging. It was then sold to Paddington Municipal Council in 1934 where the western chamber was converted to a commercial motor garage operator until 1990. Unfortunately, as a result of steel corrosion, the rooftop collapsed in 1990 causing the closure of the facilities. A detailed history of the reservoir can be found at the main entrance, displayed on a stretch of interpretive signs.
It was only in 2006 when conservation work began to restore and preserve the place as much as possible by converting it to a sunken garden!
The garden is generally divided to two levels. The lower level is now a sunken garden which also has a reflective pond and underground chamber.
Upper level - rooftop lawn and walkway
The upper level has an open rooftop lawn and pedestrian walkway which is link to adjacent Oxford street.
Some of the plants found in the garden
The garden is immaculately well-maintained. You will find various species of plants here especially around the pond area.
Pond in the garden
Integration of original bricks, timber and iron
Much of the original materials were maintained and integrated during the conservation process such as bricks, timber and iron.
Deckchairs available for use
You can access the garden via stairs or elevator. It is wheelchair and pram friendly as well. There are deckchairs provided for the public to enjoy a moment of serenity in the garden. Pets are also welcome in the garden but on the condition that all dogs must be on-leash. Use of garden for events or commercial activities may need approval by the council.
There is something clever and special about this garden which I can't specifically point out but a short stopover in this beautiful garden just made my day! It simply made me feel happy and of course put a smile on my face.