The Coal Loader, Waverton

Project completed by Glascott Landscape and Civil in 2018.

We caught up with Matthew Tancred and Gina Hill of Glascott Landscape and Civil and spent a wondrous morning at the Coal Loader Platform and Sustainability Centre in Waverton, NSW.

While Glascott Landscape and Civil and Matt Tancred are no strangers to the challenges of large-scale open space public projects, including the success of Cockatoo Island, Charlestown Oval and Wangal Park, the multi-award winning Coal Loader project remains an incredible undertaking involving history, sustainability, heavy community engagement, urban harvest plots, Green Walls and Sydney’s largest accessible Green Roof. The transformation of a disused industrial site near Ball’s Head involved North Sydney Council returning the land back to the community as a revamped heritage and multi-purpose recreation, showcasing what it possible to achieve on a green roof. The award winning project signifies an overwhelming achievement and pillar of new standards in greening public spaces.

Tunnels of love

Underneath the platform are 4 tunnels, one tunnel is locked shut as home for Sydney’s endangered micro-bats, another houses 50 water tanks used to irrigate the green roof, which further houses community ‘urban harvest’ plots, while the remaining two are open to the general public and have been restored.

Standing tall on the green roof platform are five solar trackers in operation, and the platform itself provides extensive seating and viewing areas for performance and exhibition spaces, as well as heritage interpretation of the original coal loading operations.

Matt Tancred explains, “This was an extremely complex project. On an industrial heritage site, there is a lot of unknowns, you don’t know what’s there until you open up the ground. With 100 year old buildings there are not a lot of records. We had to investigate before we moved forward, and everything had to be photographed and documented.”

In the tunnels, Glascott’s were required to remove approximately 300 tonnes of concrete. “Projects like this are a labour of love,” says Tancred. “These are interpretative spaces filled with complexity and require unique people to make it happen. There were significant structural problems in the old tunnels. We needed to prepare the concrete, and there was cracking in the roof that needed to be repaired. As it is a public walkway, the tunnel we were working on was always open. We also created a drainage system for the green roof to recapture all the water taken down through the rain gardens.”

Collaboration is key

Matthew Tancred credits Glascott’s collaborative approach as the way forward, and is proud of their strength in engagement with the active local residential community. He mentions that during the whole construction process, even the community chickens remained on-site. Matthew further explains, “With these jobs, you need to engage in the history and the background of it because it helps inspire the subcontractors and workers to better their performance. When they understand the reasons behind what they are asked to do it helps get through the frustrations.”

Green Wall Delight

As there was very little soft landscaping involved, the decisions and choices for landscaping were crucial. “The Green Roof had to be of exceptional quality as there is not a lot of it. It is a built environment and the Green Wall is where people experience their first interface with the soft landscaping” says Matthew Tancred.

Taking in the vista, you can appreciate how this industrial site has been softened with textured use of landscaping. The appeal of the Green Wall, designed by Junglefy and delivered by Alpine Nurseries, has such intricate detailing, and provides a visual and interactive delight. In addition, Matthew Tancred points out how sandstone was further used to soften the industrial spaces, opening our eyes to artistry in construction.

Why choose Alpine Nurseries?

“Alpine understood the brief and were able to source the nominated species on time and to the quality required. We are very pleased with the result, as is our client, North Sydney Council. “

“I choose Alpine Nurseries because of the level of service and understanding they have of what’s involved. When things become challenging you tend to go back to the people you have the deepest relationship and connection with. For me, that is Ken Bevan, the General Manager of Alpine Nurseries. Alpine has always stood for quality in my head and they always deliver on it.”

Featured Plants

  • Peperomia obstusifolia
  • Scaevola aemula
  • Strobilanthes anisophyllus
  • Aptenia cordifolia
  • Daniella caerulea
  • Plectranthus ciliatus