The architects who turned a waste-to-energy plant into a ski field in downtown Copenhagen have been tasked to transform 200 football fields worth of surplus land around the BlueScope Port Kembla steelworks.
BlueScope announced this morning that Danish firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) will lead the creation of a masterplan for 200 hectares of excess land adjacent to the steelworks.
CEO Mark Vassella said that all options were on the table when it came to the site, but that future uses would complement the existing steelworks.
"Everything from commercial, businesses that have a relationship with us and businesses that are looking for new areas to develop," he said.
"We're not being restrictive, in terms of what the opportunities might be."
With BlueScope gearing up to support the manufacture of wind towers in NSW, Mr Vassella said uses such as this would be ideal.
The land up for redesign includes the No. 1 works south of Five Islands Road and the former Commonwealth Rolling Mills between Flinders Street and Five Islands Road, as well as other pockets of land.
"The surplus acreage we want to explore is coastal land, with existing road, rail and energy infrastructure, just over one hour from Sydney's CBD. It's a very exciting, indeed transformational opportunity for the Illawarra," Mr Vassella said.
Beginning the 18 month process would be community consultation, with the opportunity for the local community to get involved.
"We're going to talk to First Nations people, our employees, our residential neighbours to imagine what the opportunities might be," Mr Vassella said.
The choice to go with BIG followed a global call for expressions of interest. The proposal received 21 formal applications before BlueScope ultimately selected BIG.
"We had four members of the team from BIG on site yesterday to start having a look around physically, but also to commence the consultation process. [BIG are] very progressive, very innovative, and have done large, major urban planning exercises like this," Mr Vassella said.
The project would be the first major project from the globally renowned architecture firm in Australia. Besides the waste furnace-cum-ski field in Copenhagen, BIG is known for its "pragmatic utopian architecture", including futuristic, angular designs.
Mr Vassella said that as BlueScope approaches 100 years in Port Kembla, the project was about entrenching the steelmaker in the Illawarra for the next 100 years.
"This is absolutely in in sync the feasibility work we're doing for the No. 6 blast furnace and future opportunities for us to grow as a business while also providing opportunities for aligned and adjacent industries to invest and grow in the region with us."
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