2013 Sydney Design Awards

Pitt Street Mall Public Domain [DRAFT]

Photo Credit : Please note that all photos by Brett Boardman and Paul Patterson are protected by copyright owned by those photographers. Special permission will need to be obtained from them for use in printed materials.


Project Overview

Over 58,000 people pass through Pitt Street Mall on an average summer weekday, retail rents in the Mall are amongst the highest in the world, and yet the public domain had deteriorated due to the prolonged, intensive levels of pedestrian traffic and incessant re-development of the adjacent major retail stores and developments.

The Mall was pedestrianised in the late 1970’s, but continued to have the character of a “paved street” through retention of the original crowned street profile. This project offered an opportunity to re-think the ground-plane of the Mall as a flatter, more “floor-like” surface with the intention of creating a “public room” like quality.

The paving strategy reinforces the width of the mall by utilizing a standard City palette at its edges that transforms to a richer, centralised carpet-runner-like quality arranged in radiating east-west bands, made from a palette of traditional Sydney street stone types.

Project Commissioner

City of Sydney Council


Project Creator

Tony Caro Architecture


Tony Caro Architecture
Urban Design + Architecture - Lead Designers
Tony Caro Project Director
Alexander Koll Project Architect
Blair Young Project Team
Jason Fraser Project Team
Louise Chapman Project Team

Spackman Mossop + Michaels

Structural Engineer – Catenary

Haron Robson
Electrical Engineer

Structural Engineers

Warren Smith + Partners
Hydraulic (Sanitary) Engineers

Traffic & Transport Planning Associates
Traffic Engineers

Access Australia
Universal Access

McGregor Westlake Architecture
Public Artist

Furniture Fabricator

Westfield Construction
Head Contractor

QMC Group
Civil Contractor

FIP Electrical
Electrical Contractor

3S Lighting Australia
Lighting Fabricator

Catenary Fabricator

Pacific Rigging
Catenary Installer

Project Brief

This project’s urban intention was to transform the public domain character and environment of Pitt Street Mall, located in the retail heart of the Sydney Central business district.

The head of the Tank Stream, Sydney’s settlement raison d’etre, ran under Pitt Street from its original source, a marsh roughly south of the Market Street intersection. A key move was to relocate the street drainage from the old kerb lines to a central alignment. The new, central drainage channel is an interpretation and expression of this significant item of Sydney’s cultural and social heritage.

Subsequently an important element of the brief was to create a custom suite of street furniture. The furniture is made from sand-cast bronze, Austral Black exfoliated granite plinths and re-cycled tallowood. These materials resonate with the material heritage of Sydney’s public domain.

In addition to this, an opportunity was identified for a custom public lighting system for the Mall. The catenary lighting project works with the overall conceptual framework for the Mall’s public domain, celebrating the original source of the Tank Stream.

Project Need

This project can be thought of in the following three key areas, The Floor, Furniture and Landscape, and Lighting
The project has received significant commercial interest from the market regarding the custom designed drainage grate developed by TCA. We were able to work closely with the suppliers, and fabricators to update the standard detailing and enhance the overall aesthetic effect for the project and the manufacturers product line.
An important element of the Pitt Street Mall project brief was to create a project specific, custom suite of street furniture, including seats, benches, bubblers, tree grates, and drainage grates.
The seating is arranged in a variety of configurations, to create opportunities for the public to sit in groups or individually.
The custom public lighting system for Pitt Street Mall was developed, to celebrate its pre-eminent position as the vibrant, dynamic retail heart of Sydney. The catenary is made up of a ribbon of tubular, custom LED luminaries that, when viewed in perspective, create a planar canvas of suspended light in the sky above the Mall floor. The lighting design incorporated a number of innovations in the manufacture and operation of a decorative and statutory lighting system, including power saving technologies, custom detailing of the structure and fittings, and open source programming opportunities for event lighting display.

Design Challenge

One of the key design challenges for the floor of the mall was the relative narrowness of the Pitt Street corridor. Pitt Street Mall functions as a collective outdoor room, or plaza space for the adjacent major retail stores and developments. The challenge was to design a space that enabled all of the cross flow of pedestrian traffic to and from the adjacent arcades and retail entries, as well as retaining as sense of singularity, a sense of the Mall as a public room.
The design challenge for the furniture in Pitt Street Mall was to create a custom range of seating elements that could: Function in a variety of situations for the public, De-clutter the Mall by absorbing various pieces of infrastructure including power and water outlets for performance and events, Be positioned such that they did not obstruct the cross flows of pedestrian traffic and, Resonate with the material heritage of Sydney’s public domain.
The lighting design for Pitt Street Mall was a complex project within a project. TCA worked closely with the manufactures, engineers, and lighting designers to refine the design such that the structure, fixtures and light fittings shared a minimal and elegant aesthetic that is unobtrusive during the day, whilst ensuring that the underlying technology used was capable of providing signature displays for special events, late night shopping, seasonal displays and site specific artworks.


The original drainage box culverts were retained and used as water storage and backcharge prevention. A number of feature Trachyte pavers were installed. These pavers were taken from broken and unusable kerbstones reclaimed from upgrade projects around Sydney. All timber and bronze components of the furniture are certified recycled materials.
The overland flow capacity was increased, and the incidence of flooding in the retail stores to the north of the mall has been reduced. No flooding has occurred since completion of the mall. Existing underground down pipe crossings were connected to retention pits with drip feed water supply to new and existing trees.
All existing trees were retained through the upgrade with the exception of a small number destroyed by separate Energy Australia upgrades. Additional trees of the same species were added in their place.
Statutory lighting switches on only when lighting levels in the mall fall below regulation standards. For most of the evening the statutory lighting is provided by the light emanating from the retail shop fronts. Rather than applying a blanket strategy of drenching the mall in light, photoelectric smart sensors turn on the statutory lighting of the catenary only when the shopfront lights turn off.
The decorative catenary lighting array comprises of low energy LED lights.


This award celebrates creativity and innovation in the process of designing and shaping cities, towns and villages, and is about making connections between people and places, movement and urban form, nature and the built fabric. Consideration given to giving form, shape and character to groups of buildings, streets and public spaces, transport systems, services and amenities, whole neighbourhoods and districts, and entire cities, to make urban areas functional, attractive and sustainable.

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