Sydney, Australia - Paddington Reservoir

A former reservoir in Sydney, Australia has been re-purposed into a beautiful public space. The Paddington Reservoir was once a storage facility for water but now provides year-round opportunities for activity.

This is a great example of “adaptive re-use” – where one type of structure is redeveloped into something entirely different. Of particular relevance with the Paddington Reservoir is the way that the old structural elements provide protection from the elements. This has allowed the space to be used for a wide range of activities – outdoor gallery exhibits, weddings, leisure and relaxation, and pleasant walks through the surrounding gardens. The former buildings lend the setting an almost Arcadian quality.


Adaptive re-use of existing structures is an important place-making strategy, and can be particularly useful for creating rain-friendly (and other types of) public spaces. For example, in Vancouver, much of Granville Island makes use of former industrial buildings. In Toronto, a former brick-yard has become the Evergreen Brick Works – a beautiful greenspace. Other cities have used tiered parking garages for markets and cultural spaces.

How can we get creative with older and under-utilized structures and spaces to make Vancouver a more rain-friendly city? What are the possibilities for creative re-imagination?

Share your thoughts as part of the Life Between Umbrellas competition and let’s get our city better in the wet weather.

Files and Research by Anna Simaki. Photos: Brett Boardman