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Annual review 2022

​Sydney Fish Market: reinventing an iconic cultural landmark

Sydney Fish Market: reinventing an iconic cultural landmark





When the New South Wales government asked us to help create a bold new building to rehouse top tourist destination Sydney Fish Market as the catalyst for a multimillion-dollar regeneration of the area, we responded with an innovative and green approach.

Located in an adapted paper mill on the foreshore of Blackwattle Bay, Sydney Fish Market has been a New South Wales (NSW) institution since 1966. Despite drawing more than 2M visitors a year, criticisms have been raised over the site’s suitability as a tourist destination, as while authentic, it is often congested, smelly, and not fit for purpose. In 2016, the NSW state government, through its delivery agency Urban Growth NSW and later Infrastructure NSW (INSW) announced redevelopment plans, with the goal of turning Sydney Fish Market into a world class attraction, and the catalyst for a multimillion-dollar revitalisation of the Blackwattle Bay precinct.

We helped INSW define what the new fish market could be and supported the tendering process. Following an international design competition, and from a shortlist of several notable architects, Danish firm 3XN in conjunction with local architects BVN put together the winning submission. We were the structural, civil and marine engineers for the three-year tender design phase and now sit client-side, assuring the design as technical advisor.

Mott MacDonald project director Graham Babcock says he was “initially taken aback by the organised chaos,” but recognised “the value in analysing and understanding these key operational functions”.

Detailed modelling of vehicle movements was undertaken to ensure heavy goods vehicles would be able to operate beneath the western promenade of the new building. This is possible due to long-span structures, which separate customer parking and loading zones. Auction operations in the old facility were behind closed doors, but the new market incorporates large voids in the floor plate of the retail floor, allowing visitors to watch the activity from the promenade.

“Safely enhancing the visiting public’s experience and interaction with the full product cycle was an ever-present design element,” says Graham. “Removal of the risk of HGV and forklift trucks from the vicinity of customers was a huge boost to safety.”


Sydney Fish Market


Infrastructure New South Wales


Sydney, Australia


Structural, civil and marine engineering, technical advice

We pushed for both the basement and roof structures to be DfMA. The basement was designed using eight prefabricated precast concrete elements. To reduce construction time, and dramatically increase safety onsite, these huge structures will be manufactured offsite, and floated or lifted into place.

“As a construction material, timber has a huge carbon sequestration impact. For the roof, we were instrumental in driving the adoption of timber as the primary material, visiting Europe’s largest timber suppliers to also source the wood from sustainable forests,” explains Graham.

The design for the new building just across the bay