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6 stars for Green Square town centre

Green Square town centre has been awarded the highest rating for a sustainable community. But what does this mean for the people who live and work there?

3. WhileILiveIWillGrow bottletree-crop

When walking through Green Square town centre’s new plaza, it can be hard to imagine what the area will look like when it’s all finished. But what is already obvious is that you’re walking through one of the world’s highest-rated urban communities.

Green Square town centre has been awarded a 6 star Green Star -- Communities rating. The rating certifies it as meeting the world's highest standards in governance, liveability, economic prosperity, environment and innovation.

But what does living or working in a 6 star Green Star rated community actually mean in daily life?

Places and spaces to ‘be’

We all need somewhere we can just ‘be’. With its peaceful reading garden, cafe, children's area, famous rainbow bookshelf and intriguing Anything room, Green Square Library is redefining the local library as a place for the community to come together. More than just an architecturally beautiful spot to meet up, learn, read or work, the ingenious idea to build the library underground has opened up the plaza space above for locals to enjoy even more ‘being’. The library building has its own 5 Star Green Star – Design rating, for its sustainable design.

‘Being’ at Green Square Library
‘Being’ at Green Square Library

That connected feeling

Feeling part of a community is incredibly important to our wellbeing, physical health and safety. Well-designed public spaces can act a bit like communal living rooms, encouraging us to meet and interact with our neighbours. In Green Square, communal spaces have been created to provide this opportunity and help the community develop cohesion and resilience.

These include green spaces to relax in like Dyuralya Square, Matron Ruby Grant Park and The Drying Green (opening in 2020). Other fun places such as Perry Park and Gunyama Park recreation centres will have activities galore to get involved with. Green Square is a brilliant example of high density urban planning that helps locals get to know one another, build friendships and feel part of a community.

Residents relaxing in Duralya Square
Residents relaxing in Duralya Square

Enriched through local stories

Layers of local history are woven into the fabric of Green Square town centre, helping shape a unique character and identity for the area. You can uncover the stories that Green Square has to tell through playful, interactive public artworks (some installed and many still to come) or just enjoy the visual spectacle of the unexpected.

Next time you visit, take a moment in the shade of the bottle trees that form part of the enormous While I Live I Will Grow sandstone sculpture. They will tell you about the area's historical connection to water and flooding (Green Square was once a vast wetland) as well as how the community will grow and thrive into the future.

The stories of Green Square are also told through the names of many of its places. Dyuralya (Square) means ‘brolga’ in the Sydney Aboriginal language, a word that tells of a time when these wetlands echoed with a cacophony of bird calls – red bills, water hens, brolga. The wetlands provided sustenance for Aboriginal peoples for thousands of years.

‘Where I Live I Will Grow’ sculpture by Maria Fernanda Cardoso
‘Where I Live I Will Grow’ sculpture by Maria Fernanda Cardoso

...and transported through time

Similarly, when you drop by the Banga Community Shed to repair your old toaster, learn to make a beautiful riso print at the Joynton Avenue Creative Centre or drop off your little one for daycare at Waranara (which means 'to seek' in the Sydney Aboriginal language), you'll feel a strong sense of times and generations past.

All these buildings were once the old South Sydney Hospital -- now completely transformed into the Green Square community and cultural precinct. Bringing history to life, the heritage buildings of the site were reimagined through award winning architecture and landscaping. 

The Banga Shed is Australia’s first community hub dedicated to the reuse and repair of household electrical appliances
The Banga Shed is Australia’s first community hub dedicated to the reuse and repair of household electrical appliances

Healthy living made easy

You won't be able to resist getting your yoga pants on when the new Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre opens in 2020. More than just a place to swim or salute to the sun, it will be an inner-city escape from the tensions of daily life, and a place for the community to connect. Adjoined by parklands where you can take a quick turn on the fitness training circuit, meet friends for a barbecue, or enjoy a game of ultimate frisbee, the centre will actually be heated and powered by its own locally produced energy system.

A look into 2020 when Gunyama Park recreation centre opens for everyone to enjoy
A look into 2020 when Gunyama Park recreation centre opens for everyone to enjoy

Inspired by nature...

And to inspire you even further to get outside and active, more than 40 parks will emerge across Green Square, so that feeling of being surrounded by nature will never be far away. From large open spaces like the Drying Green and Gunyama Park, to children’s playgrounds like Wulaba Park and dozens of community pocket parks, wherever you are in Green Square you're within touching distance of a place to connect with nature and get active.

Getting active in nature at Wulaba Park
Getting active in nature at Wulaba Park

...and positive for the environment

Continuing the nature theme, from the very start the City of Sydney set out to make Green Square an exemplary model for sustainable, high density living in Sydney by embedding green infrastructure into the planning.

For example, did you know that when you flush a toilet in the Green Square town centre, you're flushing with recycled stormwater? That's because one of Australia's largest urban stormwater recycling systems has captured local stormwater from recent rainfall, transported it underground to a high-tech filtration system (where it underwent 5 purification processes) and piped it to your toilet ready for flushing. This saves precious drinking water and prevents pollution from entering our waterways. The recycled water is also used for things like watering gardens and cooling systems.

Stormwater in Green Square town centre gets recycled in this purification plant before being piped to toilets for flushing among other uses
Stormwater in Green Square town centre gets recycled in this purification plant before being piped to toilets for flushing among other uses

Where the streets are for people

With tree-lined streets, self-watering raingardens, extra-wide footpaths, elegant bronze street furniture, bright LED lights and wayfinding signs highlighting the area's history, the town centre's new street network makes your local neighbourhood greener, safer and more beautiful. You might even find yourself inspired to leave the car at home and get on a bike or out for a walk in the fresh air. In fact, Green Square is specifically designed for walking and cycling with pedestrian-only zones, separated cycleways and low-speed streets.

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While these are just some of the many features that have contributed to Green Square's 6 star Green Star rating, it's often said that it's the people that make the place - and it couldn't be truer in Green Square.

As long-time residents welcome new ones and the population grows and expands like the bottle trees in the sculpture, it will be the people that bring the sense of community and collective spirit to Green Square. And, supported by the clever design, innovation, and commitment to sustainability that has underpinned the planning of Green Square from the very beginning, this diverse community is already coming together, putting down roots and creating a real urban neighbourhood.

Find out more about Green Square.

Published 21 May 2019, updated 19 October 2023