Moore Park Gardens (2000)

This legacy project reset the benchmark for urban renewal in Sydney. Still one of the area's best addresses, its creative adaptation and conservation of the old Resch's Brewery site in Redfern proves that density can be done well — when you focus on amenity, imagination and community. A project from the AJC archives, with text by historian Trevor Howells.

Environmentally sustainable design is core to every element of Moore Park Gardens: from adaptation of the Resch's Brewery building to creation of the new central landscaped street as a pivotal pedestrian-friendly urban precinct.  

Staged over a period of 10-15 years, completing in 2000, Moore Park Gardens remains one of Australia’s leading medium-density residential developments. As its master planners, architects and interior designers, AJC’s vision was to create an integrated neighbourhood balancing sustainable design with communal amenity. A new type of apartment living, not previously seen in Sydney on this scale. 

The 2.6-hectare site in East Redfern had been the Resches Brewery and its renewal integrated its massive heritage factory buildings, along with two new residential apartment towers (Grosvenor and Hopetoun) and adjoining three-five-storey terraces. Key to its success was creating the new landscaped street as a pedestrian-friendly urban precinct around which the apartments revolved. Environmentally sustainable design is a core to the project. 

Its high- and low-rise buildings house a diverse mix of 560 apartments. The towers use a crossover design, giving 90 per cent of apartments natural cross-ventilation and a north-orientated living area. The new central street, publicly accessible open spaces and landscaped courtyards work to integrate it seamlessly into its surrounds, along with community facilities including street-level neighbourhood retail.

From Brewery to playground. Text by Trevor Howells

Moore Park Gardens represents one of Sydney’s largest and most influential private residential developments in the 1990s. Its site was originally occupied by Reschs Waverley Brewery, wedged between the former heavy industrial area of Waterloo, the largely intact Victorian terrace suburb of Redfern and the eponymous Moore Park. Situated less than two kilometres south of Sydney’s CBD the 2.6 hectare was ripe for residential redevelopment after the closure of the brewery in 199? Originally site was split in half and acquired by two of Sydney’s largest residential developers. Their proposals displayed little interest in good quality architecture and urban design. The northern half was developed with nondescript medium density housing and, after the failure of one of the developers, the southern portion of the site was resold. [1] 

In 1994 Malaysian developer Dealruby bought the site. The developer quickly deemed that the existing development approval was inappropriate and bravely decided to start afresh. From invited expressions of interest AJC was appointed architects. Keith Cottier & Reg Smith’s master plan provided a radical redesign of the entire site with a new access spine, Charles Moore Avenue, through the centre.

Rather than providing solely for the car, the street (privately owned but publicly accessible) was conceived as an effective site planning device for organising a four-stage development and as an appropriate urban domain for considered architectural expression, inviting pedestrian circulation and generous landscaping. Heritage considerations required retention of the Recketts building along Bourke Street and a fragment of the old brewery in South Dowling Street. [2]

The four-stage development consisting of 560 apartments was built over a six-year period. Chronologically sequence of the four phases Stage1/1A, Stage 4, Stage 2 and Stage 3. [3] Stage 1/1A involved a combination of old and new buildings whereas Stages 2-4 are comprised entirely of new buildings. 

Stage 1/1A (1994-1995) 

The initial phase of the development incorporated retained Reckitt’s façade along the northwest boundary and the castellated element of the old Waverley Brewery on the northeast corner. [4] This stage, built independently of the later stages, is comprised of mixed residential and commercial accommodation including a 4-lane 25m swimming pool, a three-level gymnasium, a childcare centre and twin eight-storey residential towers. The residential component was comprised of 153 apartments of which 19 contain three bedrooms, 101 two bedrooms, and 33 are single bedroom apartments.  Restrained by the caution of client then unfamiliar with Sydney’s commercial residential market Reg Smith designed an arrangement of single-level apartments on each floor that favoured two- and three-bedroom flats. Undercover secure parking was provided for 195 residents’ cars with additional visitor parking. 

Stage 4 (1996/-1997) 

The second phase, located on the southwest corner, covers a site area of 4,413m² and is comprised of a seventeen-storey tower, (Grosvenor) and an L-shaped row of terraces. All of the accommodation within them, apart from commercial premised on the ground floor of the terrace houses is residential. Of the 142 residential units 30 are three bedroom apartments, 57 have two bedrooms and 55 are single bedrooms. Secure undercover parking is provided for 173 cars with additional visitor car parking. 

Stage 2 (1998-1999) 

The penultimate phase of development is located adjacent to Stage 2 in the southeast corner of the site. Covering an area of 6,030m² it is made up of two rows of terrace houses and a 23-storey tower (Dowling) with a total of 168 units, of which the majority are of two bedrooms (102), and the remainder of 16 three bedroom and 50 one-bedroom apartments. There is secure undercover parking for 212 residents’ cars. 

Perhaps the single greatest contribution of Moore Park Gardens was its exceptional success in demonstrating that good residential architectural is a readily marketable commodity in Sydney’s fierce real estate market and can return a handsome profit to an enlightened developer.

Stage 3 (1998-2000) 

The final stage of Moore Park Gardens, situated along the southern boundary is comprised of a U-shaped nine-storey building over two levels of secure parking.  Of a total 97 units 4 are of three bedrooms, 33 of two bedrooms and 60 are single bedroom apartments and parking for 112 cars. 

The apartments in tower buildings have maximised the use of space within the building envelope by the use of the “switchback” configuration. This arrangement, with vertically offset corridors occurring every two and a half floors,  allows for cross-ventilation and the northern orientation of living areas of all apartments.  

Throughout each of the stages of the project face brickwork and painted cement render has been used as a common device to relate each of the buildings into a coherent totality. To break up the monotony of large, unrelieved planes of any material banding of brickwork, coloured rendered panels and the sculptural expression of the concrete structure has been used. Colour has been used boldly to differentiate buildings whilst imbuing them with a high degree of visual richness

Perhaps the single greatest contribution of Moore Park Gardens was its exceptional success in demonstrating that good residential architectural is a readily marketable commodity in Sydney’s fierce real estate market and can return a handsome profit to an enlightened developer. The linking of an architect’s name to apartment development, rare before Moore Park Gardens, has since become a commonplace that even the worst developers are beginning to embrace with alacrity. 


1. Andrew Nimmo, ‘Moore Park Gardens’, Architectural Review Australia, No 60, Winter 1997, p 73.  

2. Ibid.  

3. Allen Jack + Cottier, Moore Park Gardens: A Design Summary, unpub report, 19 February 2002, p 1.  

4. South Sydney Council Local Environment Plan 78, South Sydney City Council, Zetland, 1978. 

Project Facts


Redfern, NSW


Dealruby P/L


Architecture, Interior Design, Urban Design




Nic Bailey


2001, Dulux Colour Awards, Best Residential Exterior, Winner

1999, NSW Architecture Awards, President’s Award Winner

1999, PCA Innovation & Excellence Awards, Leading Urban Design Development, Design Dividend Winner

1998, UDIA Awards for Excellence, Urban Redevelopment Award, Winner

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