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Design competition launched for Winter Sports World

As the Beijing Winter Olympics yields gold for Australia, three of the nation’s architects are vying for the right to design Australia’s first indoor snow resort and alpine attraction (and possibly its future elite training ground).

One small, one medium and one large architectural firm have been invited to enter a design competition for Winter Sports World, to be built on the banks of the Nepean River at Penrith, New South Wales, just 9km from the new international airport at Badgerys Creek.

Winter Sports World site owner and developer Peter Magnisalis has been working with the NSW Government architect and Penrith City Council on a design brief since October.

The winner will be announced at the end of March.

Mr Magnisalis said he wanted to work with Australian architects: ``We know the talent is here and they know the climate and the landscape.

``I’m excited to see what each comes back with. There’s a large company that is used to designing award-winning projects, a medium sized one that is renowned for thinking outside the box and a small one which is nimble and isn’t afraid to go off piste.’’

The three competitors were selected after thorough research narrowed the shortlist to seven architects. Mr Magnisalis interviewed each, after which he invited them to submit an expression of interest. Six responded (the seventh was not available in the time required).

Each EOI was then evaluated, with the top scoring three invited to submit a design to the competition.

The design competition follows the amendment by NSW Planning Department of the Local Environmental Plan for the Winter Sports World site on December 16.

Since Penrith Council endorsed the proposal in May, several revisions to the proposal have included taking better advantage of latest green technology such as incorporating renewable and recycled materials, and thermal and energy efficiency methods in the design and running of the attraction, electric car charging points and an underground carpark.

Other modifications include amending the shape and size of the development so that all neighbours receive winter sun; revising the number of hotel rooms to 162; and removing the revolving restaurant to make way for the height required for the advanced ski run, although fine dining remains along with casual food options.

Mr Magnisalis is currently negotiating with internationally respected hotel management companies and restauranteurs.

Using real snow, the $300 million development will include:

  • A 300m advanced run for experienced athletes and a dedicated learn to ski run

  • Olympic sized ice rink

  • Competition venue for figure, ice hockey, speed skating and alpine skiing

  • Ice climbing for mountaineer training

  • 4.5-star 162-room hotel

  • Restaurant and cafes with snow views

Currently a 2.35ha horse paddock located within the vibrant Riverlink Tourism Precinct at Penrith, the site will also include a Winter Wonderland snow play area, conference and function rooms.

Winter Sports World is expected to generate 900 new ongoing tourism jobs after construction and inject $80 million a year into the local economy with 250,000 visitors annually.

The attraction will also attract international elite snow and ice athletes and provide a training venue for nine Olympic sports (alpine skiing, freestyle skiing, snow board, figure skating, ice hockey, speed skating, curling with the possibility of also catering for cross country and biathlon).

``I don’t think it’s a big stretch of the imagination to think that Winter Olympic stars of the future will be training at Winter Sports World,’’ Mr Magnisalis said.

However, the development will be accessible and affordable to all with learn-to-ski classes, school and community group excursions and casual visits by locals encouraged.

The carbon-neutral design of the development by renowned eco-friendly architecture practice Environa Studio would set new environmental building benchmarks with features such as most advanced technology for capturing and reuse of free heat, roof solar system for electrical energy needs, insulation systems, non-toxic cooling and roof water harvesting for snow making.

A state significant development application is expected to be lodged with NSW Department of Planning Industry and Environment by mid-year.

Construction will hopefully commence next year, with Winter Sports World expected to open in 2025.

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