Barangaroo- Moore declares hotel shadow too intrusive

20 Aug

Editor’s note- Oh dear, the water will be in shadow!

Matthew Moore and Kelsey Munro, August 19, 2010

THE lord mayor, Clover Moore, has broken ranks with the board responsible for Sydney’s biggest development, declaring a plan to build a hotel over the water at East Darling Harbour ”unacceptable” because of the size of its shadow.

Cr Moore, one of seven members of the board of the Barangaroo Delivery Authority, said new shadow diagrams revealed a decision to halve the length of the hotel pier meant the major waterfront promenade – and the cafes and restaurants that lined it – would be cast in shadow in winter, with little sun during the lunch hours of noon and 2pm.

”It’s unacceptable,” said Cr Moore, who said the site’s developer, Lend Lease, would have to consider moving the hotel back to the shore to avoid overshadowing an area she said needed winter sun for the thousands of people who will work in the huge office towers.

Cr Moore has been under pressure from other members of the City of Sydney to quit the BDA board so she can freely criticise plans for the project, which has grown 40 per cent since the government first announced it and which she says is too big.

But she defended her membership and said she had been able to improve the design of Barangaroo, reducing the number of towers from four to three, improving views and encouraging some human scale development, as well as ensuring there were more streets and lanes to make the development appealing at ground level.

Despite these improvements, there were still major problems with the project, she said.

Apartment towers on the northern side of a planned new cove were too high at 35 storeys and should be cut down to minimise the amount of winter sun they would block; and the 90-metres-wide commercial towers were too big.

Plans to amend the concept plan to allow the hotel and increased buildings heights were lodged with the Department of Planning last week. A window for objections is open only until September 10, a period Cr Moore said was far too brief for any serious assessment of Sydney’s biggest project.

A spokesman for Lend Lease rejected Cr Moore’s criticisms and said a number of sites and orientations had already been considered for the hotel, and the pier on the harbour was the preferred option.

”An important aspect of the hotel design is that it creates a really commanding north-facing cove. The pier integrates with the Southern Cove to create a major waterfront civic space and water square,” he said.

While the hotel would cast a shadow over the promenade, he played down concerns. ”The hotel has a shadow that tracks across the promenade, but it’s a small portion of the promenade and it moves quite quickly over a short period of each day … so we don’t see that as a major concern, and in fact in some parts of the year you’ll be grateful for some sun protection.”

He also dismissed council’s concerns about the height of the northern residential towers (150 metres or about 46 storeys). He said the two tall, slender towers had been designed with solar access in mind.

Restaurant operators at King Street Wharf were alarmed to discover shadows from the huge commercial towers would reach many of their establishments and rob their breakfast customers of winter sunshine.

”They don’t want to sit in the shade. That’s the whole point of being on the wharf, it’s half the reason they’re here to be on the water: to be warm and look at the views,” said Rebecca Hambly, manager of La Cita restaurant.


Another bastard for the colonies
SMH, December 23, 2009

History will cast them as foes, but in fact the two designs make exactly the same mistake.

Philip Thalis’ competition-winning design, expunged from the official website as if it never existed, split the huge Barangaroo site lengthwise, giving the public a flat-as-a-pancake park along the water and putting private (built) uses inland.

Lend Lease’s politician-winning scheme goes the other way, dividing the site across, planting the southern (larger) half with a forest of towers while the northern-or-lesser half becomes a back-to-nature front lawn.

Three of Lend Lease’s towers exceed the (already expanded) height limit. Controversy is therefore expected, height being so measurable, so easy to fight over. But really, once you’re past 40, height is not the issue.

Indeed, and this was Thalis’ other error, if he’d gone 50 storeys instead of six or 10 he’d probably still be in place. Several downtown towers – including Renzo Piano’s Aurora Place and Norman Foster’s 126 Phillip Street – would be improved by another few storeys.

The real issue is deeper, less fixable, and common to both. It’s the folly of dividing public, open space from private built space – as though Sydney’s grandest project ever were just another suburban lot – when we all know that successful city precincts mix it up, using buildings to define spaces and spaces to enrich buildings.

Former prime minister Paul Keating likes to apply the Central Park simile. But Central Park’s defining trait is the way it does precisely this, shaping buildings into a sheer escarpment that creates the world’s most memorable outdoor room.

Another useful template is St Mark’s Square in Venice, where a relatively narrow public waterfront strip opens with sudden drama on to a bustling, all-but-hidden urban space. Or Valletta, where the central square is strongly internal but each end of each whitewashed street is filled with that sparkling, azure sea.

Barangaroo, in separating public grass from private commercial, does the opposite, condemning the parkland to be as godless and windswept – as undefined and hard-to-love – as Pyrmont Point Park, while the commercial precinct becomes a nine-to-five corporate dead zone.

This is a double tragedy because it is not Lend Lease’s choice but a wanton government decision, months back, to bifurcate the site for dollars, and cement the split with separate control authorities. This means that while the Lend Lease-Richard Rogers scheme was always the best, even in the 2005-06 competition it didn’t win, the city precinct that will result from their appointment can never regain anything like that original pizazz.

On the other hand, what Lend Lease has chosen – the architecture – looks pretty damn ordinary. Pretty cheap, actually, like King Street Wharf stretched tall. I’d guess it’s as close to Lord Rogers as 126 Phillip Street was to Foster. Strictly bastard children to the colonies, thanks. And as for the supposedly ”natural” headland? Expect no baroque lusciousness of sandstone and angophora. Expect flat concrete, dead-look grass and a few half-hearted trees. Expect cheap.

Keating’s role here is pivotal. He helped judge the competition and now chairs both the Public Domain body controlling the front half (which is unfunded and therefore revenue-dependent on the back) and the Design Excellence Review Panel that advises on the back half. Like, what conflict of interest? Where?

This could spell disaster. Reintegration is virtually impossible and John Tabart, who redeveloped Brisbane Airport and ruined Melbourne’s Docklands, is leading the charge. The heart sinks. But there is at least one overseeing eye: Keating’s.



One Response to “Barangaroo- Moore declares hotel shadow too intrusive”

  1. Benjamin November 18, 2011 at 3:24 am #

    This site has so much potential, and I still believe that Sydney should have, its real “Opera House” on this site.
    Instead of just a clump of oversized buildings.

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