Statement of SignificanceFoundation Park is a place of heritage value for The Rocks and for New South Wales.Within the local context of The Rocks, Foundation Park is significant as a reference site for the second wave of terrace house building in inner city Sydney in the 1880s on topographically difficult sites such as cliff edges, through which an extensive network of paths and steps provided pedestrian routes. This local character survived the urban renewal program of the early 1970s due to community action undertaken by local residents and the Builders Labourers Federation, and the Park is now a landmark place in The Rocks, hidden away from heavily-trafficked vehicle routes and only accessible by pedestrians, that still evokes the 'quaint'.. The exposed ruins illustrate late 19th century terrace house fabric and construction techniques once widespread in inner city Sydney, combined with the preservation methods used in the mid-1990s to retain such fabric and construction techniques. The Park retains important potential to reveal archaeological materials (in its unexcavated sections) related to building and living on such topographically challenging sites, and also materials relating to the earliest period of British colonisation when the cliff face formed the edge of the grounds around the first hospital built in 1788 and the toponym The Rocks first came into use. The ruins evoke the once widespread nature of terrace housing in inner city Sydney, emphasised by the very small size of the park and the individual the ruins and over-sized character of the interiors and furnishings in the 'ghost houses' public sculpture.Within the statewide context of New South Wales, Foundation Park is significant for its associations with the Cadigal place name Tallawoladah that once referred to the ridge and foreground on the western side of Warrane (Sydney Cove) and which still survives in both the historical record and with limited (revived) use as a toponym that can evoke the earliest period of contact between the Cadigal and the British. The cliff face on the Park's eastern edge, which from 1788 until 1816 marked the limit of the grounds of the colonial hospital built in 1788 on the cove littoral, continue to provide a physical expression of the place name and the earliest period of colonisation. The valuing of this evidence of the past has been enhanced through the preservation of the ruins of terrace housing later built on the cliff top and edge and the creation of a park setting for both the ruins and cliff. The former residents of the terraces included several police officers who gave evidence at a Royal Commission in 1892 into the allegations of police bribery by the Chinese community, an inquiry that affected relations between the police and Chinese residents across New South Wales.The interpretation of the ruins by the 'ghost houses' public sculpture is the work of Peter D. Cole, a significant public artist of national renown. Foundation Park is an early and influential exemplar of the late 20th century revival of a Picturesque aesthetic in landscape design and presentation, associated with significant cultural heritage sites and especially convict sites, perhaps as a means to express the tensions in landscapes that are today of notable physical beauty but with a history of brutal human relationships. The aesthetic values of the Park with its landscape of ruins and interpretive artworks demonstrate the Picturesque aesthetic on a very small scale when compared with similar sites in New South Wales which tend to be larger and more expansive. The 'ghost houses' sculpture, inspired by Franklin Court in Philadelphia USA, responds to the genius loci of the place while also introducing an element of fantasy that invites imaginative responses from visitors to the Park. Peter D. Cole is a public artist of national stature, and he assesses this work as one of his most significant in a life-long portfolio of his works. The 'ghost houses' work also exhibits a degree of technical innovation in its design and execution with attention to detailing, colours and the use of technologies (such as the lighting) that was up-to-date in 1996. The combination of sublime natural forms in the cliff face, the mysterious nature of partly-revealed ruins of terrace housing, the imaginative 'ghost houses' public art, and the serene parkish landscaping giver the place a romantic, 'secret garden' character that, located within The Rocks, makes it a place unique in New South Wales.
Park/recreation relaxation area
Landscape - Cultural
Construction Years: 1875 - 0
Physical Description: Foundation Park is made up of what were formerly no's 2-16 Gloucester Street, constructed in the mid-1870s. These were demolished in 1938. A park was created on the site in 1972. The site was landscaped to complement the adjoining Argyle Arts Centre in 1993-1996, with the foundations of the houses and sculptural interpretation incorporated into the park design.
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Historic Notes and Themes
Historical notes: The site probably formed part of a land parcel granted to William Balmain (1762-1803) in 1795. Balmain was assistant surgeon to New South Wales at the time, and became principal surgeon to the colony when John White returned to England in 1796. When Balmain left the colony in August 1801 he held 598 hectares (1480 acres), including land in The Rocks, the Balmain Peninsula (which was named after him) and at the Field of Mars. After he left, much of his property, including that in The Rocks reverted to the Crown. In 1816 the hospital relocated to Macquarie Street and much of the old hospital land became available for private uses.The site lies in the western half of an unmarked allotment sandwiched between John Piper to the south and John Laurie to the north. John Piper, the Naval Officer, was granted the surgeon's house and an allotment of land. It is not known if Piper ever lived in the former surgeon's house, but in 1828 he began to construct a large house on Argyle Street just to the south of the site. Piper did not complete the building and sold the property to Mary Reibey in June 1828 for ?2000 'in hand' to pay for debts. Eventually this property was sold to Frederick Wright Unwin and in 1830 became the Customs House which now forms part of Argyle Stores. John Laurie leased the allotment to the north of the site and was granted the land in 1816.The town of Sydney was surveyed in the mid-1830s in an attempt to establish the owners of the land. The irregular terrain and lack of formal sub-division, or a regular grid of streets, had resulted in the development of very irregular pattern of blocks and lots that reflected the natural topography. A network of pedestrian lanes and steps connected the streets that also served to delineate the blocks. Like many of the streets in The Rocks, Gloucester Street (now Walk) was originally a path that followed the natural terrain. It ran in a north-south direction, along the rock shelf that formed the western boundary of the first hospital and gaol, and led to rows of huts built on the naturally occurring rock shelves.The majority of the site lies within the western section of plot no. 2, the plan showing the allotments had Frederick Garling's name shown although, William Gaudry leased plot no. 2 in c1809-10, and was probably responsible for building the house situated on George Street. When Gaudry died on 31 January 1816 at the age of 33, he died intestate and most of his land grants reverted to the Crown. By about 1820 Frederick Garling (1775-1848) had acquired the land, and probably lived there with his large family throughout the 1820s.The site also extended northwards into allotment no. 3. Allotment no. 3 is attributed to Archibald Mossman ('Arch. Mossman'). Mossman did not arrive in the colony until 1828, so he could not have been the owner before this date. He was a merchant and involved in the whaling trade, and a long building extending east-west along the shared boundary with allotment no. 2, is possibly a rope walk. The building was probably built by Mossman and the plan shows a wall enclosing the land. John Laurie is cited as a previous owner this plot. In 1830 Unwin disputed an encroachment on his land and a plan was produced as evidence. The study site lies in the western half of allotment no. 2. It is attributed as follows "Mr Garling's Allotment surrounded by the old stone wall" and the segment delineated by a dashed line is the disputed land. Mary Reibey is shown as the owner of Plot 3 to the south of the study site. Allotment no.4 to the north of the site is attributed to Archibald Mossman. During the 1830s there are various attempts to subdivide the land which includes the site. The first time is in 1834 when 19 allotments in 'New George-street (Gloucester Street) and Bunker's Hill' were advertised for sale. In June 1835, Mossman's land was advertised for sale. Mossman's improvements were cited, including two large stores, a stable and a cooper. In 1837 the Garling residence and land was advertised for sale. The plot obviously did not sell as the site was advertised again in January and again in November 1838. Early maps show Gloucester Street as little more than a path until the1860s. It peters out in the vicinity of the site because here the land started to slope steeply down towards George Street. The City Detail Sheet, 1855 illustrates the nature of the terrain most graphically in plan. However, a road was needed if the land was going to attract investors/purchasers. With the opening and bridging of the Argyle Cut in 1857 the land becomes more desirable. Now waterfront workers could have easy access to both Circular Quay and Darling Harbour. In addition, the population of Sydney almost doubled between 1851 and 1861 and any land left vacant in The Rocks was in demand. Gloucester Street was not formally formed until the late 1850s largely due to the gold rushes. Late in 1871 allotments in the area of the site were put up for auction by Richardson and Wrench. The City Section Survey Plan, c.1833 shows the western half of allotment no. 2 as belonging to William Waley Billyard, however Billyard only arrived in Sydney in 1846 after the failure of the 'North Australia' penal colony (covering what is now the Northern Territory and North Queensland). Whilst the chain of land ownership is uncertain, Billyard appears to be responsible for the subdivision of this land into lots 21 to 25 and their subsequent sale. It took some time to sell the subdivision. The land sales occurred between December 1874 and April 1875. The purchasers were reported in the Sydney Morning Herald. The purchasers of the lots that included the site were John Nicolson (lot 21), Bartholomew Higgins (lot 22, 23), John Kearney (lot 24) and John Murphy (lots 25, 26 and 27). Foundation ParkThe ruins in the park are the result of three distinct building programmes; the first to be constructed was a single, originally free-standing residence at the southern extremity of the site on lot no. 21 (16 Gloucester Street); this was followed by the construction of three terrace houses immediately to its north, on lot nos. 22 and 23 (10, 12 and 14 Gloucester Street), and finally the construction of four more terraces on lot nos. 24-26 (2-8 Gloucester Street). Lot 21 (later 16 Gloucester Street) was subdivided in1874 and sold at auction on 6 January 1875 to John Nicholson. In February the following year Nicholson transferred it to Enoch Rees, stonemason, who divided it into two parts. The Sands Directory for 1877 lists Nicholson and James Brown residing in the Gloucester Street frontage, suggesting the terrace was built 1875-6. The Sydney Council rate records state that Nicholson remained the owner at least until 1896. From later records it appears the 16 Gloucester Street was two stories high, one at ground level on Gloucester Street, and one below. The physical evidence from the archaeological investigations of 1993-1996 showed that there were in fact three floors (two below the level of Gloucester Street) however the lowest floor was likely to have been more of an outhouse. Sergeant Bartholomew Higgins of the New South Wales Police Force bought two lots (22-23) in 1875. He also transferred them to Rees in 1876. Five terraces were built on the lots, two on Little Gloucester Street (now Playfair Street) were built by 1875, and three on Gloucester Street (now Walk) built between 1876 and 1878. 10, 12 and 14 Gloucester Street were also known as Erin Terrace. It is evident from contemporary photographs that each of the three terraces was four stories high, two above the Gloucester Street level and two below. Higgins lived at 10 Gloucester Street between 1883-1894. In 1895 he moved to 55 Gloucester Street. Sergeant John Kearney of the New South Wales Police Force purchased lot 24 and built two terraces on the lot, including 8 Gloucester Street and 13 Little Gloucester Street (now Playfair Street). Kearney lived at 13 Little Gloucester Street from the time of its construction in 1875 until he moved into 10 Gloucester Street by 1879. Higgins was Kearney's friend and work colleague until he was pensioned out of the police force after a fall from a roof in George Street in pursuit of a burglar in 1885. He resided at 8 Gloucester Street from 1879 until his death in 1893. His wife continued to live there until 1902. John Murphy purchased lots 25 and 26 in 1875. Murphy was a publican and also an expert at 'land sweating'. He constructed nine rental properties on these three lots. Three facing Gloucester Street (Nos. 2-6) by 1881, three facing Little Gloucester Street (now Playfair Street) and three in between, including two small dwellings above the rear yards of 9 and 11 Little Gloucester Street soon after. These two dwellings incorporated the attics of 9 and 11 Little Gloucester Street as the front room. A rear room was constructed over the backyards, and the roofs of the dwellings provided the yard to the houses he constructed on Gloucester Street. All of the terraces and land was resumed by the Crown in 1902 as part of the resumptions in response to the plague outbreak. A demolition plan of two dwellings (drawn in 1902) reveals that the front wall (facing Gloucester Street) was brick and the side walls were studs lined with iron. The roof was iron with wooden planks laid over it to provide the rear yard to 4 and 6 Gloucester Street. They must have been incredibly hot in summer. The plan also states that they were in a 'very dilapidated and dangerous condition and absolutely beyond repair'. Dove's Plan, 1880 shows the built out subdivision. Bartholomew Higgins was living at 10 Gloucester Street when he was asked to give evidence at the enquiry into police corruption associated with illegal gambling practices in1891. At the hearing, Higgins was asked to justify how he had managed to accumulate so much wealth and property, given that he was a sergeant with nine children. He stated that he never accepted bribes from anyone which might put him under obligation and explained how he owned ten houses. He borrowed money to buy the land and gave the impression that he did a lot of the work himself. Thomas Playfair was called to give a statement at the enquiry which qualified Higgin's version of events: "About eighteen or nineteen years ago there was a lot of land to be sold at the back of Kendall's mill. It was offered at auction, but they could not sell it, and it was afterwards sold for £5 a foot. I (Playfair) bought three or four allotments myself. The land was sold very cheap there. I was offered very liberal terms; in fact people would hardly believe it now; and I know that Carney (sic Kearney) and Higgins were offered and obtained unlimited terms.........they bought their bricks cheap, and did a lot of their own work, when off duty, such as laying out the gutters, and putting up the closets. I have seen them there dozens of times. These men were saving and industrious, and got their property that way. The houses took a long time to build. They bought the bricks by small lots, and all the drainage works and the water closets were done by themselves.......this property which I have told you of must have paid very well, for they are renting at 18s and £1 a week not long ago, and they were built very cheap." The physical evidence of the terraces call into question just how much work was done by the landowners without a background in building, as the brickwork and the standardisation of the construction of the terraces indicates that they were professionally built. The archaeological excavations of 1993-6 concluded that the terrain probably prohibited economically viable development prior to the 1870s and that it would have taken the skills of a stonemason such as Enoch Rees to carry out such a development. The Commissioners must have been satisfied with the explanations they received, as neither Kearney nor Murphy was called to give evidence. Access to the properties built between Gloucester Street (now Walk) and Little Gloucester Street (now Playfair Street) was via a series of steps and passageways. The passageways between 9 and 11 Little Gloucester (now 19-21 Playfair Street) to the rear of the properties were slightly unusual. Whilst these types of passageways are found in similar terraces elsewhere to gain access to the rear yard, in this case it seems they were built to gain access to the other houses built behind them. The passageway between Higgins' houses, 25 and 27 Little Gloucester Street (now Playfair Street) corresponds with a flight of steps up to the houses he built in Gloucester Street, directly behind on the same lots. The single ownership of the land fronting both streets probably facilitated the formation of such through lanes. Murphy built two passageways, one in Argyle and Tara Terrace and one between that and the adjoining house he built in 1877 on lot 27, 7 Little Gloucester Street (now 17 Playfair Street). The passageway between Argyle and Tara Terrace appears to have led to the rear yard, and a drainage hole from a former toilet aligns with it. By 1887 all of the original subdivision had been built out. Most of the buildings were residential terraces constructed for the working class rental market. However, the land between the Argyle Stores and 16 Gloucester Street was still vacant, although this land had been alienated from the Crown into private ownership. The two story house Murphy built at the back of 7 Little Gloucester Street is noted in the 1891 Rates Assessment Book. A long flight of steps run parallel to the south facade of 16 Gloucester Street. In 1887 a fence or retaining wall along Gloucester Street collapsed on to the street below. This had been erected by Sydney Council. There are few details of this wall but it appears that it was built to prevent pedestrians falling down a cliff-face. This suggests that the area was quarried and cut back before the construction of the terraces. Apart from Kearney and William George, most of the tenants only stayed for a short while in the 19th Century. In 1901 all of the allotments were resumed by the Crown and Sydney Harbour Trust became responsible for the site and buildings. The initial aim of the Trust, established as a result of the Plague which arrived in Sydney in early 1900, was to clean up the resumed areas and redevelop them for commercial use. However, the area within the boundaries of the resumption included many residential properties mixed with the wharves and commercial buildings that the Trust intended to use. The Trust gradually had to accept that it would have to take the role of landlord and manage the newly acquired residential properties and their occupants. Much of the housing in the area had become dilapidated by this time and demolitions and cleansing operations were undertaken by the Trust. Buildings deemed unrepairable were recorded with an architectural plan and photographed before being demolished. The small dwellings which Murphy constructed in the rear yard of 9 & 11 Little Gloucester Street (now Playfair Street) were amongst these buildings. The buildings were recorded thoroughly to prevent former landlords from suing the Trust, providing proof of the state of the buildings and thus their value. Some 'sweaters' tried to claim their buildings were worth more than they received in compensation, but the Trust also had the Rates Records as proof. In the early 20th century, the domestic character of Gloucester Street to the north of Argyle Cut changed forever. In 1911 a new bridge was constructed over the Argyle Cut linking Cumberland and Gloucester Streets. Previously each street had been linked by separate bridges. Substantial modification of the level and alignment of Gloucester Street was required to join the two streets, and most of the houses on the west side of the street section north of the Cut were demolished. These were replaced by larger building blocks such as Rowans Bond and much later the Sirius Apartments. The new alignment involved raising the height of the road in the immediate vicinity of the terraces. A section to the north of the Argyle Cut was closed to traffic and later became Gloucester Walk. Cleland Bond store was built in 1914 for Dingle and Co.as part of the Argyle Bond & Free Stores complex. Prior to this, Patrick Freehill constructed stables on the site of the store, but these were demolished in 1877 when the area was designated as a roadway - a plan that was never acted upon. The north wall of the Cleland Store created a three storey boundary wall to the south of the study site. Sometime after this construction, a privy was built against this wall with a lean-to roof. The Gloucester Street terraces were demolished in 1938. They may have been slated for demolition at an earlier date, but World War 1 (1914-18) postponed much of the Trust's work. The archaeological excavation of 1993-6 concluded that the most likely reason for demolition after only 60 years was that the inner faces of the western walls suffered from damp. This did not so much as to affect the stability of the structures but rather the living conditions in the lower rooms as the remaining walls and footings suggested that the houses would have been in fairly good structural condition at the time of demolition.After the demolition of the terraces in 1938, the site was neglected and the rubble remains were invaded by lantana, presumably because it was such a difficult area to maintain. A corrugated iron fence was erected along Gloucester Walk as a safety precaution and to screen the unsightly site. Despite their dilapidated state, some of the Playfair Street terraces remained inhabited until 1970s. In 1970 the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority (SCRA) was formed and various buildings, including Argyle and Tara Terrace were earmarked for demolition. In 1971 the first of a series of trade union Green Bans was placed on development works in the Rocks. 'A People's Plan for the Rocks' was drawn up by a group of professionals. SCRA could only, in effect, proceed with works that did not involve demolition, as public demonstrations and occupation of buildings prevented any other works in the early 1970s. The Argyle Store was scheduled for refurbishment in 1972. SCRA decided to proceed with the refurbishment and landscape the site as a park, after having lain in a ruinous state for more than 30 years. In addition, a decision to demolish Argyle and Tara Terrace was reversed by SCRA and the terraces were restored. The fences, yards and sheds to the terrace were removed to create the Argyle Courtyard in 1973. The whole approach to these sites, including the park site, was intended by SCRA to demonstrate its commitment to 'restoring' historic buildings and providing amenities for residents, and to counter the narrative of the BLF and resident groups.The landscape proposal plan shows the proposed layout for the park. The scheme sought to combine a mixture of grass and brick paved terraces with the stabilised architectural remains of 2 Gloucester Street that had been exposed. The plan also reveals an intention was to plant native species. This would have been in keeping with the ideas promoted by the 'Sydney Bush School' movement that was just beginning to gather momentum at this time, also known as the 'nuts and berries' movement, which was embracing native plants as part of a quest for an 'authentic' Australian identity that was prevalent during the 1960s to 1980s.Work started on site in 1973, the same year that unionists and residents were picketing in Playfair Street. A photograph taken from Cleland Bond Store was published in the Wentworth Courier and shows clearance work in progress. The name "Foundation Park" was chosen to inform the visitor that this area had been the site of eight terrace houses, the ruins (foundations) of some of which could be seen. A significant amount of masonry still remained from the terraces and an attempt was made to incorporate some of these remains into the design of the park, however, no archaeological investigations were undertaken at this time. In 1974 a re-examination of scheme for The Rocks led to SCRA redefining its role and marked the beginning of the Authority's role in the development of The Rocks as a tourist destination. By the end of the 1970s the character, use and occupation of the area had been redefined.In 1980 following the erection of the Sirius Housing Commission Flats, the remainder of Gloucester Street north of Argyle Cut was closed to traffic and turned into a 'cliff top walk'. The walk was paved with brick pavers and an iron picket safety fence was erected along its entirety with 'heritage' street lights. A lookout was created and named after Captain Eber Bunker. A new entry bridge was built to Cleland Bond, with timber paling on either side. In 1985, further upgrading works to Gloucester Walk involved replacing the steps outside Cleland Bond with a ramp and a metal picket fence replaced the Cleland Bond palings. Rowan's Bond was demolished in 1988. By the late 1980s/ early 1990s the park was being perceived as not well used. SCRA explored ideas to improve access, in particular to improve connections between Cleland Bond store and the park. Plans to replace the visually dominant timber stair between Argyle Courtyard to Gloucester Walk with a series of steps linking into the different levels of the park were part of a wider initiative to create greater permeability throughout The Rocks. However the proposals were never implemented. In 1990 Brett Noble was commissioned by SCA to examine the exposed fabric in the park; to "record the extant above ground remains", and "to make recommendations concerning the nature and extent of the archaeological resource on site." His report was commissioned in response to a proposed development on Gloucester Walk. Recent excavation work carried out along Gloucester Walk had exposed a retaining wall built along the east side of Bunker's Hill. The proposed development required refurbishment of this section of the Walk and included a new access linking Argyle Centre, Gloucester Walk and the park, resurfacing of Gloucester Walk and construction of benches along top of remains of front wall of terraces. At the same time, Peter Graves conducted an analysis of brick, lime mortar and cement render in the park. The initiative to revitalise the park arose from works to the Argyle Centre. The 1994 conservation works to the Argyle Centre included provision for an egress stair from Cleland Bond store to the southern portion of the park. Preliminary works for footings, associated with this egress stair, uncovered the remains of the southern-most house on the site - 16 Gloucester Street. Archaeological excavations followed which uncovered the remains of the lower floors of more dwellings. Archaeological works were carried out on site from December 1993 to February 1994, to assess the resource and plan for the redesign of the park, and again in January-May 1996 during the park construction works. The excavation quickly discovered that the entire lower floor of No. 16 had been buried and that a retaining wall had been built in 1972 to contain the fill. It was clear that the buildings had been demolished in upon themselves starting with the upper floors. The investigations determined that the park was of high historic and scientific significance, and that the recreational value of the park was important to The Rocks for both social and aesthetic reasons. Due to the findings a general initiative aimed at upgrading, rejuvenating and more accurately interpreting the park's layers of significance followed. In August 1994 the Authority engaged consultants Context Landscape Design to re-design Foundation Park and better interpret the terrace remains. The specific design requirements were as follows: · The park remains a recreational space; · The interpretation of the scale and use of the former terrace houses, or one of these houses should be achieved in a physical, perhaps sculptural way whilst not compromising the recreational and archaeological value of the park. · The earlier pedestrian link between Gloucester Street (now Walk) and the rear of the Argyle and Tara Terraces adjoining the Cleland Bond be reinstated; · The fire egress requirements for Cleland Bond be incorporated into the park design; · The existing, inappropriate vegetation which concealed the remains be removed and replaced with appropriate alternatives but only where the archaeological fabric would not be adversely affected; · The existing upper level walkway to the rear of the Argyle and Tara Terraces be upgraded. The consultants came up with 3 options for revitalisation: Option 1 involved a full reinstatement of the park as a passive open space and reburying the archaeological remains; Option 2 involved stabilising the existing condition by combining both the pre-existing park and excavation works/ to incorporate the archaeological remains and guide visitors to explore for themselves the consolidated remains in order to gain some understanding of what had once stood there; and Option 3 involved fully excavating the site. SCA chose Option 2. Context Landscape Design undertook the documentation and contract administration for the project.In 1995 Peter D. Cole, a Victoria-based 'landscape' sculptor was introduced to the project. His brief was to create a number of sculptural pieces to assist with the interpretation of the remains and to incorporate public art into the park design. The artist determined that highly stylised designs, as opposed to abstract sculptures, would create a sense of history and provide the park user with a more enriched experience when interpreting the historic fabric of the site. The designs were all full size pieces of furniture to be strategically placed within the 'rooms' and yards' of the archaeological remains, allowing for historic reference and representation. The pieces were fabricated in thick cor-ten steel plate. One of the major components of Cole's commission was the ghost or frame house designed to interpret the known configuration of the early terrace house on the site. The structure did not try to accurately represent the dwelling but rather to evoke its nature using its roof pitch, ridge line and floor levels to demonstrate the scale of dwelling and its relationship to Gloucester Street (now Walk) and the Argyle and Tara Terraces. In addition, it served as a viewing platform for the public and a fire escape from the top floors of Cleland Bond. The concept and design of the 'ghost houses' was influenced by Franklin Court in Philadelphia, USA, where a similar approach was used to interpret the now-demolish house of Benjamin Franklin as a Bicentennial project in 1976.In March 1996 the tender to revitalise Foundation Park awarded to R.E Charles Constructions for the sum of $631,527.00, plus 10% contingency, in conjunction works to the Argyle Centre, 18 Argyle Street. Of this sum, $200,000.00 was for the metalwork. Foundation Park was officially opened by The Honourable Bob Carr MP, Premier of New South Wales on Sunday 1s t September 1996, some 23 years after the initial formation of the park. In 1996 the project received an award of merit from Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) and in 1997 a further award from the National Trust.
Historical significance: The historical significance of Foundation Park is demonstrated by:? The evidence in the place of the significant human activity of valuing evidence of the past, in this case through the preservation of the ruins of buildings and structures, and the display of those preserved ruins in a specially-designed public setting. Foundation Park was the first public space to be created by the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority in The Rocks, and the first in-situ display of the partially excavated remnants of demolished terrace housing.? The associations of the place with a significant historical phase, that of the initial invasion and colonisation of Sydney Cove (Warrane) in the late 18th century when the first colonial hospital was established eastwards of the site, and the cliff face marked the informal western boundaries of the hospital grounds. It marks a key association with the first British settlement in New South Wales and Australia.? The associations of the place with a significant historical phase, that of redeveloping The Rocks during the later 19th century in a second wave of terrace house building, especially on topographically difficult rocky ridges and cliff faces between existing buildings that had previously been avoided as building sites due to this character. The increasing value of land, and increasing population densities close to the City, made the development of such sites viable by the 1880s.The maintaining of a continuing historical activity in The Rocks of providing east west pedestrian access across and up and down the north-south aligned rocky ledges and shelves of Bunkers Hill. Since the 1880s a series of directly and indirectly linked passages and flights of steps running through the terrace housing on the site and the terrace housing fronting Playfair Street, partly obscured in the mid-20th century and revived by the opening of the Park in 1973, were essential to the ways in which 'the rock' was negotiated by residents and travellers moving between such sites.The item meets this criterion at a STATE level.
Historical association: The associational significance of Foundation Park is demonstrated by:? The association of the place with the significant event of the 1891-92 Royal Commission on Alleged Chinese Gambling and Immorality and Charges of Bribery against the Police Force, held in 1891-1892. Important witnesses to the Royal Commission included Sergeant Bartholomew Higgins, who lived at 10 Gloucester Street from 1883-1894 and was living there when he was called upon to give evidence on 27th October in 1891; and Sergeant. John Kearney (who was mentioned in evidence) was living at 8 Gloucester Street at the time of the enquiry. For more information see Police Station CMP, 127-129 George Street, The Rocks (2012) SHFA.? The association of the place with the significant person of Peter Cole, sculptor and artist. Cole is a South Australian born 'public artist' who has been based in Victoria since the 1970s. He is now one of Australia's most senior and renowned living sculptors. His work is exhibited at places as diverse as Parliament House and The National Gallery in Canberra and Brisbane International Airport. Cole created the 'ghost houses' public sculpture between 1995 and 1996 along the western side of the park, and lists his awards for the work (National Trust Heritage Award and Australian Institute of Landscape Architecture Merit Award) as significant recognitions of his work. This association is of at least state-level significance.? It shows evidence of the significant human occupation of engaging with movements for social betterment, in this case the Green Bans Movement. While the park was being built in 1973 residents and Builders labourers Federation (BLF) activists were picketing the redevelopment of a site in Playfair Street directly below the park. The Authority was seeking to demonstrate, through the park project, that it was interested in and meeting its requirements to restore and care for historic sites in The Rocks, contrary to claims by the BLF.The item meets this criterion at a STATE level.
Aesthetic significance: The aesthetic significance of Foundation Park is demonstrated by:? The way it shows creative innovation and achievement, and exemplifies a particular taste and style, that is evident in realising the idea of presenting ruins in a garden or landscape setting. This concept has ancient precedents in Europe but in the mid to late 18th century English Landscape Garden movement it became particularly fashionable manifestation of the Picturesque aesthetic. Foundation Park is one of the earliest late 20th century examples of a revival of this aesthetic in Australia. Other examples include Port Arthur in Tasmania, Kingston and Arthurs Vale Historic Area on Norfolk Island and Parramatta Park, although these are on a much larger scale and are directly related to the convict period. The name 'Foundation Park' indicates the incorporation of the ruins of the terraces was more by design than pragmatism. Whilst not intellectually driven (it was pre Burra Charter), Foundation Park probably influenced the design of parks such as McKell Park (1983-5) and is the forerunner of more recent public spaces such as the Government Brickworks conserved as part of the Sydney Olympic site, Homebush (c1998-9), Paddington Reservoir Gardens, Paddington (2010) and Ballast Point Park, Birchgrove (2010), which all pay homage to some degree to the picturesque aesthetic.? Its inspiration for creative innovation and achievement in the sculptural work of Peter D. Cole.9 The 1996 scheme enhanced the potential of the site as an educational resource in a theatrical and innovative way using sculpture, subtle lighting, paintwork and careful differentiation between very old, old and new fabric. . The installation is a successful example of a large public art installation. It was intelligently commissioned and represents an intelligent response to the "genius loci" by the artist. It should be noted that Foundation Park is not typical of Cole's work and that vivacious use of colour is the sole attribute that connects this project with the main body of his work. The project received two national awards:o Australian Institute of Landscape Architecture, Award of Merit, 1996o National Trust (NSW) Heritage Award, Winner, 1997? Its landmark qualities in The Rocks. Foundation Park contributes to the setting and character of the historic Rocks precinct. The framed views and vistas over The Rocks to other parts of the Harbour beyond are significant as they help to anchor The Rocks to its maritime past. It is one of a network of small public spaces, including courtyards and passageways that lie off the beaten track and combine to give The Rocks its unique character. These spaces offer tranquillity and contribute to the setting of The Rocks in the way in which they contrast with the frenetic urban experience on offer elsewhere.The technical significance of Foundation Park is demonstrated by:? It shows technical achievement, in terms of architectural resources and a sequence of building materials, that illustrate construction techniques used in 19th century Sydney that are overlaid with the 1972-3 works that illustrate pre-Burra Charter building conservation techniques. While neither is exemplary in its own right, together they reveal the technical layering that contributes to the richness of the site.? It shows technical innovation in the 1996 scheme, which has withstood the test of time remarkably well, despite the absence of informed maintenance. Evidence from the site, from interviews and from project documentation reveal a well-executed project, where attention to detail and shared passionate commitment from those involved were successfully combined to great effect. The most up-to-date technology was employed where feasible.The item meets this criterion at a LOCAL level.The item meets this criterion at a STATE level.
Social significance: The social significance of Foundation Park is demonstrated by:Its important associations with an identifiable group, in this case the Cadigal people, for whom the site formed part of a strip of land along the western shore of Warrane (Sydney Cove) which they called "Tallawoladah". The fact that this area was named denotes it as a special or particular place for the indigenous peoples of Sydney Harbour before the arrival of European settlers.? Its important associations with an identifiable group, in this case the early conservation planning staff of the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority. The fact that the Authority saw the value in retaining the ruins of a row of ordinary terraces, which were not of any particular architectural merit, is an early example of appreciation for this type of evidence of social history in Australia. Their retention contributes to understanding the social histories of The Rocks.? It is important to a community's sense of place, in this case local office workers and nearby residents, particularly in the Sirius social housing complex. Both groups use the place frequently for having lunch, contemplation, and socialising. It is frequently used by tour operators and school groups which demonstrate the tourist, educational and social value of the site. During the excavation work between 1993-96, local residents vocally expressed a desire to retain site's use as a public amenity and this influenced the extent of excavation and the incorporation of a small lawn area.The item meets this criterion at a LOCAL level.
Research significance: The research significance of Foundation Park is demonstrated by:? Its potential to yield new or further archaeological information is inherent in the fabric that survives and is exposed, and in the archaeological collections amassed from the excavations. In 1993-96, the remains of 4, 6 and 8 Gloucester Street (now Walk) were only partially investigated. The buried remains of these terraces have the potential to yield further information and understanding of the way of life for Rocks residents in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.Its potential to yield new or further archaeological information because of the close connections, both historically and physically, between the Park and the Argyle and Tara (Playfair Street) Terraces, the Argyle Stores and Cleland Bond. All of these sites have the potential to reveal further historical and archaeological information about each other.? It is an important reference site, in conjunction with the archaeological relics excavated from the site, that is indicative of the layered and then final stage of colonia eral urbanisation in this, the earliest British settled region of Sydney. The development of this rugged terrain occurred at precisely the time when the NSW Parliament was conducting an inquiry into the poor standard of living in The Rocks. It would seem to be anomalous that this area should have been considered a slum and yet attract new building.10The item meets this criterion at a STATE level.
Rare assessment: The rarity of Foundation Park is demonstrated by:? Its combination of being the first realised example of its type, and its demonstration of designs and techniques of exceptional interest. This combination is illustrated by the creation and management of the place as a Lilliputian landscape displaying the characteristics of the picturesque aesthetic, into which the exposed rock face (partly natural, partly marked by over a century of quarrying) has been incorporated as an integral element. A further layering of public art has been added that, through the use of Peter Cole's design prowess and techniques such as 'Alice in Wonderland' over-sized elements, has enhanced and extended the romantic qualities of the secret garden character of the park in ways that stimulate the imagination and provoke questions about the past and the now long-gone inhabitants. This combination of qualities has produced a place that is unique in New South Wales.The item meets this criterion at a STATE level.
Representative assessment: The representativeness of Foundation Park is demonstrated by:? It having the principle characteristics of an important group of items, in this case, the ruins and archaeological materials associated with sites once occupied by terrace housing, but where such fabric has not been removed by partial or complete excavation of a site. It is estimated that the majority of all terrace housing ever built in inner-Sydney has been demolished, and the site is representative of such vanished terraces.11? Having attributes typical of a particular philosophy, in this case the Picturesque aesthetic of the 18th century as interpreted and represented in the late 20th century. Characteristic of this aesthetic is a tension between ideas of the beautiful, exemplified by views from and around the site, or the Peter Cole 'ghost houses' sculpture, and the sublime, exemplified by the ruins perched on the cliff edge, or the over-sized nature of the Cole artefacts in the 'ghost rooms'. Within the opposed ideals of visual desire and fearful self-preservation lies the possibilities of an idealised state of being, possibilities at the heart of a Picturesque philosophy.? Being outstanding because of its size, in this case a mere 398 m2 containing the ruins of eight houses (and because of internal divisions even more dwellings) overlaid with a major piece of public sculpture and landscape elements of several large trees and a grassy lawn.? Being outstanding because of its integrity, as a landscape of ruins that are managed as ruins rather than as an archaeological site, and as the site of the Peter Cole 'ghost houses' sculptural installation that is managed as a significant piece of public art rather than playground furnishings.The item meets this criterion at a STATE level.
Intact assessment: Archaeology: the entire site has not been excavated.
Physical condition: The remains of the houses have been stabilised and used in the design of an interpretive park. Additional sculptural elements have been added as reminders of the past. All elements are in good condition.
|Australian Theme||NSW Theme||Local Theme|
|Building settlements, towns and cities||Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation ? does not include architectural styles ? use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities.|
|Developing cultural institutions and ways of life||Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities.|
|Building settlements, towns and cities||Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages.|
|Heritage Listing||Listing Title||Listing Number||Gazette Date||Gazette Number||Gazette Page|
|Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register||Place Management NSW|