Newington has been one of the most significant projects for Mirvac Design, and enabled the innovation in sustainability and planning which are still benchmarked today. Home of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Village, the precinct was developed in a relatively short period of time, and Mirvac Design worked with numerous architects and government authorities. Newington demonstrates how a community can be realised, not just for the period of an event, but more importantly, for the permanent community who are the current residents.
Sustainable design principles were integral to the design, at a time when these principles were being newly formed, and Newington was Australia's first solar suburb. A joint venture with Lend Lease, Mirvac Design worked with larger architectural practices such as Cox Richardson, PTW, and Hassell, as well as small practices, including Eeles Trelease, Vote Associates, Tanner and Associates, Gordon and Valich, Virginia Kerridge Architects, Grose Bradley Associates, Order Architects and Tonkin Zulhaika, to produce a variety of housing types. With a ridge in the centre of the site, apartments were located on the eastern boundary, forming a strong edge, as well as optimising parkland amenity. For many of the small architectural practices, it was their first time working on mass housing.
A collaborative process, making the project viable while allowing for exploration of design options and innovation was critical to the success of the overall precinct. A portion of the first stage was set aside to experiment with different housing types and materials. These were then reviewed, and a library of designs was taken forward for the remainder of the project. Sustainability principles can be seen in homes throughout the various precincts: solar panels on roofs, solar hot water, cross ventilation and minimum reliance on artificial cooling. And to ensure protection from the sun, pergolas, as well as external awnings and louvres, feature extensively.
Also important in Newington was the treatment and recycling of water, with all stormwater taken to water quality ponds that formed part of the regenerated flora and fauna habitats adjacent to Newington, and re-used to irrigate adjacent parklands. Newington is also connected to the Olympic Park water recycling system, which provides recycled water to every dwelling for toilet flushing and garden watering. One of the many challenges Mirvac Design faced at Newington was housing up to 24 people in a four bedroom house for the Olympics, and then re-configuring the house post-Olympics for its long-term use, creating a sense of community with social infrastructure and support in place as a legacy.