Critical Companions Series: Ocean Pools Project

Drone photo of Mahon Ocean Pool by Nicole Larkin
Wednesday 9 September 2020
4.00 - 5.30pm

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Online Event (Zoom)

The Critical Companions Series celebrates innovative and rich thinking. The series aims to traverse disciplinary silos to provoke different perspectives and invite new conversations.

‘Critical Companions’ are individuals within the Sydney Environment Institute’s network that inspire others with their unique methodology to stretch horizons and strengthen thinking. This brand new initiative aims to gather and encourage scholars across campus to experience thinking in a contemporary way.

The inaugural lecture will be given by Nicole Larkin, University of Sydney Masters of Architecture graduate and affiliate of the Sydney Environment Institute. Larkin’s research is based on capturing ocean pools in New South Wales and looks to publish a best practice design guideline for ocean pools as a resource for professionals and the community.

The presentation gives an overview of the Wild Edge, a project which documents NSW’s ocean pools. Set against sublime headlands and tucked into sweeping beaches, ocean pools are understated turquoise sanctuaries. Concrete walls meld with natural rock and are engulfed by the surf twice a day. If our surroundings speak to us of who we are, ocean pools tell of our love affair with the water’s edge. Practising architect and designer Nicole Larkin has traversed NSW capturing these pools through 3D models and scale drawings of each. This presentation is an overview of the project and details its application in a design and planning context.



Nicole Larkin is a practising architect and designer. Her body of work on ocean pools has been fundamental in fostering value and understanding for design and architecture in NSW. Nicole graduated from a Masters of Architecture from the University of Sydney Faculty of Architecture in 2013. Most recently for her work on ocean pools, Nicole was Awarded a USYD Alumni Excellence award for her significant contribution to the built environment and community. Nicole continues to undertake research on ocean pools in NSW and looks to publish a best practice design guideline for ocean pools as a resource for professionals and the community.


Abbas El-Zein is a Professor of Environmental Engineering at the School of Civil Engineering of the University of Sydney where he runs the GeoEnvironmental Laboratory. He has been a chief investigator on several Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery grants and has published widely on soil hydrology, groundwater contamination, carbon cycle in soils and vulnerability to climate change. Current projects include investigations of the impacts on clay and shales of thermally and chemically aggressive contaminants, and adaptation to sea-level rise and increased flooding in Australia.