Sydney Maritime Museum
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Architect Philip Cox, Richardson and Taylor
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Location Darling Harbor, Sydney, Australia   map
Date 1986 to 1988   timeline
Building Type Aquarium, maritime museum, restaurant
 Construction System steel truss vaults, floating barges
Climate temperate
Context urban waterfront
Style Modern
Notes Land-based and floating Oceanarium with underwater walkways.






Plan Drawing

Site Plan Drawing

Site Plan Drawing

Discussion Sydney Maritime Museum Commentary

"The major NSW Bicentennial project for 1988 in Sydney was the Darling Harbour redevelopment. Cox's firm produced three major structures. Amid a veritable armada of tall buildings, the small, unusual, and exciting Sydney Aquarium looks like a beached whale or some prehistoric sea beast, shiny and full-scaled. It differs from all the other buildings in that it was a privately funded building and focuses on an activity below the water rather than on top! In fact it is part building, part barge. It has three sections: an earthbound display; an exhibition and visitor centre; and a restaurant. To its north are three floating and semi-submerged freely moving tanks in which an Oceanarium is situated, allowing spectators to walk literally through walkways surrounded by water, and varieties of sea life. The third structure, the Maritime Service Board Wharf No. 10, also to the north, houses the support services and labs. The tanks, looking like small barges or ships moored to the wharf are covered by fabric roofs hung from masts and steel cable, all of which further extend in terms of maritime metaphors. The sensation of walking in a boat rather than on hard land is an important feature of this enterprising exhibition."

— Dennis Sharp. Twentieth Century Architecture: a Visual History. p398-9.

Sources on Sydney Maritime Museum

E. M. Farrelly. "Out of the Swing of the Sea, Darling", Architectural Review. April 1989, Vol 185 Number 1106. p63. drawing of site plan, p63. drawing of plan, p66.

Dennis Sharp. Twentieth Century Architecture: a Visual History. New York: Facts on File, 1990. ISBN 0-8160-2438-3. NA680.S517. exterior photos, p399. — Available at

Jennifer Towndrow. "New Australian Functionalism." RIBA Journal. April 1989, Vol. 96, No. 4. Color photo of exterior, p40.

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at  Find books about Sydney Maritime Museum


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