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As a historical site of first contact, a place of immigration and a tourism destination, Sydney Cove (Circular Quay) acts as a key interface between Australia and the rest of the world. The isolated island continent rendering its inhabitants vulnerable to foreign diseases brought ashore.
A smallpox epidemic in 1789 believed to originate from the First Fleet’s arrival was responsible for the death of an estimated 70% of the aboriginal population in the Sydney region, who had no previous exposure to the virus.
On the 19th of March 2020, the 290m long cruise-ship “Ruby Princess” docked in the Overseas Passenger Terminal (OPT) at 11:00am, delivering 2700 passengers. About 662 people linked to the ship tested positive for COVID-19, comprising 10% of the infections in Australia at the time and triggering a pandemic.
The site of the OPT and its related cruise ship industry have become a symbol of the pandemic spread in Australia, a capitulation to private profit and interest over the public good. Our proposal aims to return this space to the public, ceasing this mass tourism activity and re-designing the shoreline (through interpretation of pre-settlement landscape), submerging the existing structure as a landscape memorial to the pandemic.
Our three Images present -elastically and non-prescribing- different moments in the life of this space for “Remembrance and Landscape Redemption”; departing from the initial “Embryo state” which deals with the eviction of Cruise Ships out of the terminal, to potential future scenarios based on the imminent erasure of the current shoreline as consequence of sea level rise and tide-variations.
Perhaps, there will be opportunity for this place to become a Wet Public Playground where people would connect with the oceanic realm and the memorial character of the site as a healing act via water-walking and “immersions”, helped by buoyant naval cables and steel structures that insinuate the former Transport Terminal.
Returning to its previous spirit of “sacred soil” -pre-colony-, a landscape of healing will emerge and the users of this aquatic ecology would enjoy the value of connection through a water-scape and cables that allow to be Hydro- connected while "contact-less". By then, about 160 Mega Litres of water would have been returned to the public and reimbursed into Sydney’s urban experience for the joy of people. The epicentre of virus inoculation in Australia would be healed, submerged and concealed through this programmed flooding.
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