Chris Hook


The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Saturday Extra - WRITES CHRIS HOOK

Syd­ney’s sky­line finds a cut­ting new edge

The fu­ture of ar­chi­tec­ture is now — and it is trans­form­ing Syd­ney. As the city’s makeover pushes more glass tow­ers into the air, there have been some big changes in the new build­ings.

Sky­scrapers are now open to all, raised amid streetscapes to fit within and re­spect the build­ings and their sur­rounds.

And cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy is be­ing de­ployed to min­imise waste and power use, and max­imise the use of re­sources close at hand, such as sea­wa­ter, so­lar en­ergy, rain­wa­ter, and the rub­bish gen­er­ated by the oc­cu­pants.

“In decades gone by there was a trend for of­fice lob­bies with­out ac­ti­va­tion or ac­tiv­ity, but now ground lev­els have cafes and restau­rants blended in to lobby spa­ces and build­ings,” says At­las Ur­ban de­sign and strat­egy di­rec­tor Paul Wal­ter.

“It’s not just the build­ing it­self, it’s also the way you ar­rive. For ex­am­ple the Wyn­yard Walk project (from Wyn­yard Sta­tion to Baranga­roo South) has just been fin­ished so you can go from the train sta­tion to the Har­bour in seam­less fash­ion, whereas be­fore it would have been get­ting into a car and ar­riv­ing in a car park anony­mously,” he says.

Baranga­roo is where new res­i­den­tial and of­fice tow­ers meet the city, the har­bour and our his­tory. Fur­ther walk­ways will in­clude Baranga­roo Wharf and two new pedes­trian bridges over Hick­son Rd.

It’s telling that more than half the site is pub­lic space. And while the de­vel­oper of Baranga­roo Cen­tral has yet to be an­nounced, Lendlease’s Baranga­roo South is now reach­ing to­wards the sky.

By project’s com­ple­tion in 2024, there will be 23,000 work­ers and about 3000 res­i­dents. Al­ready there are 16,000 peo­ple work­ing in the precinct’s three in­ter­na­tional tow­ers. But im­pact is min­i­mal. The en­tire precinct will be car­bon neu­tral.

Rain­wa­ter is har­vested, and the precinct re­cy­cles non­potable wa­ter and sends out the wa­ter that’s cap­tured.

More than 30 tonnes of food waste is turned into fer­tiliser ev­ery month.

Per­haps most in­no­va­tive, how­ever, is the use of sea­wa­ter for dis­trict cool­ing. So rather than use power-hun­gry tra­di­tional air­con­di­tion­ing sys­tems, sea­wa­ter is pumped in from the har­bour and run through the Baranga­roo build­ings to cool the air, with a se­ries of fil­ters used to free any seal­ife and the process mon­i­tored by UNSW to en­sure the re­turned wa­ter doesn’t do any dam­age. Else­where, huge tow­ers are ris­ing around the city from Quay Quar­ter, a 50-storey of­fice block at 50 Bridge St, to the As­pire and Hold­mark tow­ers in Church St, Par­ra­matta. But these trends can be seen on a smaller scale too. At 1 Deni­son St, North Syd­ney, what will be the area’s tallest build­ing and home to Chan­nel 9 as it leaves Wil­loughby is slowly ris­ing to the heav­ens. De­signed by Bates Smart, it is be­ing built with the neigh­bours in mind. “In plan­ning and ar­chi­tec­ture you are guilty un­til proven in­no­cent and that’s a hang­over from modernism,” Bates Smart di­rec­tor Philip Vi­vian says. Res­i­dents in neigh­bour­ing apart­ment blocks were sus­pi­cious — un­til they saw the de­sign of the new build­ing. It’s ta­pered to main­tain pri­vacy and light to the ad­join­ing apart­ment block. “As we get into these denser clus­ters, build­ings need … to re­spect the amenity of the neigh­bours … and not block out the sun,” Vi­vian says. Newly com­pleted 177 Pa­cific just down the road has been con­structed with many of these prin­ci­ples in mind. Vast amounts of space at the base are open to the pub­lic, and its de­sign in­cludes cutouts to let sun through to pub­lic spa­ces around it. “They are be­ing crafted and sculpted to re­spect the amenity of ex­ist­ing pub­lic spa­ces and re­vi­tal­is­ing those spa­ces, and cre­at­ing new pub­lic spa­ces at the ground level — they make the city more live­able,” Vi­vian says.

Mean­while at the $1 bil­lion re­de­vel­op­ment of the Aus­tralian Tech­nol­ogy Park in Eveleigh, Mir­vac is cre­at­ing a three-build­ing home for the Com­mon­wealth Bank. Deep in a his­toric res­i­den­tial area, key to the de­sign think­ing is mak­ing it a space for the whole com­mu­nity.

“We want to change the way it feels, so walk­ing through the site be­comes part of your ev­ery­day com­mute, so it’s a place you want to go and when peo­ple look around they won’t feel like they are in a busi­ness park but a part of Eveleigh,” Mir­vac’s Paul Ed­wards says.

There will be parks, com­mu­nity build­ings, play­grounds and arts events in part­ner­ship with the nearby Car­riage­works.

At nearby Chip­pen­dale, the old and the new come to­gether dra­mat­i­cally at Cen­tral Park, on the site of the old Carl­ton and United Brew­ery, with its hang­ing gar­dens and in­cor­po­ra­tion of the old brew­ery yard build­ing. Rain­wa­ter cap­ture and so­lar en­ergy are all har­nessed on site.

“(It) shows that it is pos­si­ble to re­use our for­mer old in­dus­trial build­ings in prac­ti­cal, ef­fi­cient, el­e­gant and sus­tain­able ways, and at the same time, to pre­serve their his­toric sig­nif­i­cance,” Cen­tral Park de­signer Tzannes Ar­chi­tects di­rec­tor Ben Green says.

As we get into these denser clus­ters, build­ings need … to re­spect the amenity of the neigh­bours Philip Vi­vian

AMP Cap­i­tal’s pro­posed Quay Quar­ter Syd­ney precinct at Cir­cu­lar Quay, and (top cen­tre) the win­ning de­sign for the Hold­mark Tower in Par­ra­matta, and (left) Baranga­roo.

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