Above: Turning over a new leaf at the Paddington Reservoir Gardens.
Garden Variety built in the 19th century as a water tank, Sydney’s heritage-listed Paddington Reservoir (Oxford St., Paddington) was abandoned in 1991 when the roof over its western chamber collapsed, leaving a grotto of old brick columns and arches that proved irresistible to graffiti artists. Now, following a US$7.5-million makeover, the 1,000-square-meter space has been resurrected as a Romanesque sunken garden with leafy canopies and a reflecting pool at its center. The vibrant graffiti has been retained as a spotlit showcase of urban art, and a series of murals has been commissioned for the former reservoir’s inner chamber. The resulting “cultural precinct” will host markets as well as art, music, and film festivals; a handful of restaurants and cafés and are also on the drawing board. Watch this space. –Natasha Dragun
Originally appeared in the June/July 2009 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Gypsy Tales: Attraction Garden Variety”)