Construction on the brand new Sydney Fish Market is set to begin within weeks. Hansen Yuncken has been appointed head contractor for the stage one works which will include demolition of the existing wharves and support structures, removal of marine piles, sea wall repairs and site preparation.

When complete, the fish market will be the largest of its kind in the world - even bigger than Japan’s famous Tsukiji market. It will provide 4,700 m2 of public space including 3 storeys (plus basement car park) of fishmongers, specialty shops, restaurants, cafes and bars and a waterfront promenade at an estimated cost of $750 million.

The site of the new market is located adjacent to the existing fish market in Blackwattle Bay. Several redevelopment plans are being considered for the existing fish market site that will “deliver new open space and return inaccessible parts of Sydney Harbour to the public for the first time.” 

The development is also intended to enhance the link between the bay and Wentworth Park whilst providing the missing link that completes a 15km walk between Rozelle and Woolloomooloo.

The design of the new market, which was undertaken by Danish architecture firm, 3XN, with Australian firm BVN and landscape architect ASPECT Studio, will completely transform the area to facilitate the increasing visitor numbers every year (currently approx. 3 million visitors per year). 

The new development will consist of a free-flowing, open interior space with mezzanine floors under a single sweeping roof that draws people inside and integrates into the waterfront, creating a space where locals and tourists alike will mingle under one sweeping curved roof. 

“On the ground level is all the activity - the auctions, the loading, and the wholesale,” 3XN cofounder and principal, Kim Herforth Nielsen told The Louisiana Channel, “On top of that is the retail, and that’s where the public can come up and eat the fish, see the fish and look down onto the handling of the fish and the auction.” 

The surrounding waterfront promenade will promote public recreation and add to the atmosphere of the market and “create more connections between the public and the water” whilst providing a precinct promoting integration between locals and tourists.

The timber-framed wave-shaped canopy roof will use 350 triangular roof panels and skylights to resemble fish scales, whilst providing natural light, ventilation and a rainwater collection system.

“On top of the whole structure we have an open roof, a curved roofscape, the roof undulates to accommodate what’s underneath, sometimes it is 3-storeys high, sometimes 2,” says Nielsen.

The building will consume 30% less energy, 50% less water and support the recycling of 6,000t of food and fish scraps during operation and use sustainable materials during construction to eliminate 100,000t of CO₂.

The truly unique aspect of the design is a flexible ‘modular’ interior design concept that will allow the interior space to be transformed to suit the changing needs of the fish market as it evolves over time. 

Modules will allow easy transformation of shape and function of spaces to suit the needs of the market and allow integration of the different building functions. Communal seating areas can be transformed into retail kitchen space, car parking can be transformed into retail stalls and open voids can be transformed into tiered seating.

“We don’t want to make a building only with a feature of being a fish market, it has to give something back to the community.  We think about the market as a place for the whole community. We think it’ll be an activator to change the whole area, and be a meeting point for all the people in the surrounding area to eat, buy fish and meet other people.”