Archive | November, 2010

Paddington Reservoir Gardens

21 Nov

I visited the Paddington Reservoir Gardens yesterday and was very impressed.  It’s the closest thing Sydney has to a Roman ruin. It also blocks out the noise from Oxford Street well- a real urban oasis.

Beware- the image files below are quite large (about 800Kb), so may take long to load.

Listed as a site of State heritage significance, Paddington Reservoir was originally constructed in two stages, in 1866 and 1878, with water chambers below street level. A grassed park above was opened in the 1930s. Decommissioned in 1899, the site was used as a workshop and garage until 1990 when roof collapses forced its closure.

The concept for Paddington Reservoir Gardens was embodied in the existing artefact. An accessible sunken garden and pond, surrounded by a raised pre-cast concrete boardwalk, have been inserted within the conserved ruin of the Western Chamber. The edges of the ruin are contained by concrete that amplifies the distinctive curves of the original brick vaults. The gated Eastern Chamber has been conserved as a multi-purpose community space. The stabilised brickwork and reconstructed hardwood columns form the base for the new landscaped park above.

Two lightweight roofs float above the Reservoir, signalling the main entry points.

A restricted palette of three materials – steel, aluminium and concrete – was chosen as contemporary partners for the historic brick, cast iron and timber. Their raw expression is softened by generous planting and water below with sweeping lawns above. The walkways and gardens invite exploration of this unique urban ruin.

Text by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer with JMD Design and City of Sydney

The site back in simpler times (probably the 1970’s).


Rail stations win top prize for public buildings

15 Nov

October 29, 2010 Helen Pitt SMH

NSW has won eight of the 33 awards and commendations in this year’s National Architecture Awards, including the nation’s most prestigious public architecture award for the Epping to Chatswood rail link intermediate stations.

The lord mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, and the City of Sydney council received five awards for three projects it commissioned – Pirrama Park at Pyrmont, Paddington Reservoir Gardens and Surry Hills Library and Community Centre – an unprecedented number for one client in the Australian Institute of Architects National Awards’ 30-year history.

01. The Epping to Chatswood rail link intermediate stations won the Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Architecture.

02. Paddington Reservoir Gardens, winner of the National Award for Heritage.

03. Pirrama Park in Pyrmont, winner of the Walter Burley Griffin Award for Urban Design. Photo: Kate Geraghty.

04. 5-9 Roslyn Gardens in Kings Cross, winner of the Harry Seidler Award for commercial architecture. Photo: Nick Moir

05. The Sydney architect Peter Strutchbury won one of the International Awards for this house in Japan.

06. Surry Hills Library and Community Centre, winner of the National Award for Sustainable Architecture.

07. The ANZ Centre in Melbourne, winner of the Emil Sodersten Award for Interior Architecture.

08. Tree of Knowledge Memorial, Barcaldine, Queensland, winner of the Lachlan Macquarie Award for Heritage.

09. The new UNSW Village was commended in the multiple residential category of this year’s National Architecture Awards.

10. Trial Bay house, the first Tasmanian house to receive the top honour in the Robin Boyd Award for residential architecture.

At an awards ceremony in Canberra last night, the Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Architecture went to the north-western Sydney rail interchange, which also won the NSW Sulman Award for Public Architecture for architects Hassell earlier this year.

Despite the uproar about the demolition of the former Baron’s building in Roslyn Street, Kings Cross, its replacement, designed by Durbach Block Architects, won the Harry Seidler Award for commercial architecture.

The National Award for Sustainable Architecture went to Surry Hills Library and Community Centre, by Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp. The underground ”archaeological ruins” of Paddington Reservoir Gardens, by architects Tonkin Zulaikha Greer with JMD Design, won the National Award for Heritage. The Walter Burley Griffin Award for Urban Design was awarded to Pirrama Park at Pyrmont Hill by Thalis Architecture + Urban Projects/Aspect Studios/CAB.

”For a city enamoured with its harbour image, Sydney has surprisingly few places where you can dangle your feet in the water,” the judges said of Pirrama Park, the former Water Police headquarters that has been transformed into a multi-use 1.8-hectare harbourside park.

Its sandstone artefacts, innovative playground, shoreline promenade and ”Stevedore Walk”, recalling the area’s wharves and workers, ”offers a model for the future redevelopment of the foreshore,” the judges said.

”This is a great public space because it respects the past without treating it as a museum artefact … It feels like every activity the community could want is catered for,” they said.

The judges commended the City of Sydney and Cr Moore, who recently resigned from her role on the Barangaroo redevelopment, for courage in commissioning high-quality public projects that ”teach us new things about our approaches to sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint”.

”I would hope the recognition through these awards gives public-sector clients more courage to commission more of these sorts of projects,” the jury chairwoman, Melinda Dodson, said.

The Sydney architect Peter Stutchbury won one of the International Awards for a house he designed in Japan, and for the first time a Tasmanian house – Trial Bay house, by HBV Architects – has received the top honour in the Robin Boyd Award for residential architecture. In the multiple residential category the new UNSW Village by Architectus was commended.

This is the sixth time a NSW building has won Australia’s highest architectural accolade. The awards began in 1981.


City 'could be free of traffic'

13 Nov

Editor’s note- interesting stuff here, but I think that we should step carefully trying to pedestrianise areas of Sydney. Much of the dynamic nature of modern “new-world” cities is centred around focussed activity, and there are many examples of planners destroying previously vibrant areas with pedestrian zones (eg- Martin Place). I don’t think that fat guys lounging on chairs is what I want to see in Times Square (or George Street for that matter….).

Article below- SMH, November 13, 2010 Josephine Tovey

SHE is the woman whose job it is to stop New York City traffic – literally. As transport commissioner of New York, Janette Sadik-Khan was charged with easing the congestion crisis in the Big Apple, which she has done with more than 320 kilometres of bicycle paths, new bus and ferry routes and ambitious projects such as turning the once jammed Times Square into a plaza.

Imagine this … Janette Sadik-Khan, New York’s transport commissioner, in George Street, Sydney. Photo: Quentin Jones

She has been vindicated by a 100 per cent increase in cycling since 2006, a drastic reduction in the number of accidents and faster-moving traffic.

As a guest of the City of Sydney council, which is trying to implement its radical cycle and pedestrian-friendly reform, Ms Sadik-Khan is here to try to convince us that if you can make it happen in New York, you can make it happen anywhere.

A pedestrianized Times Square in New York ca. 2009. Image from Sean_Marshall on Flickr.

”If we’re going to make a city that people want to be in we have to prioritise these investments,” she said.

Hers has been a formidable task in a city as notorious for its bellicose populace as its gridlocked streets, but Ms Sadik-Khan, a former corporate lawyer and cycling enthusiast, did not tread lightly.

The centrepiece of her reforms has been turning Times Square, where the average speed used to be 6.4 kilometres an hour and the defining sound was the car horn, into a safe plaza for the 356, 000 people who visit on foot each day.

Before and After: A rendering of a car-free Broadway at 7th Ave., Times Square, looking north.

Lanes were closed to cars, cycling strips introduced and cafe tables scattered where taxis used to dominate. New York Magazine praised her efforts as ”bypass surgery on the heart of New York”.

”People don’t go to Broadway to see the traffic,” she said. ”Now they have a way to really enjoy it.”

The changes were incremental, a key tactic in winning over her boss, the New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg, and the public.

Before and After: A rendering of a car-free Broadway at 6th Ave., Herald Square, looking south.

For the lord mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, to realise her ambition of making George Street a pedestrian precinct, Ms Sadik-Khan advised: ”Try it on weekends, try it at a different time of day, paint it a little different and assess it and report back to the public and say this is what we’ve found,” she said. ”That takes a lot of the anxiety out.”

Even so, she has had plenty of critics at home and has been labelled an ”anti-car extremist”. Under the City of Sydney’s 2030 strategy, George Street should become a pedestrian plaza with light rail running down its spine.

The state government is undertaking studies on the alignment for a light rail extension in the central business district but has not committed to the council’s plan.

”I’m rather envious of Bloomberg. He has greater powers than I do,” said Cr Moore yesterday.

”To do the sort of thing they have done you need to be able to get on and do the job whereas I need to negotiate with the RTA.”



City takes a bite of Big Apple plan

Drew Warne-Smith, The Australian November 13, 2010

WHEN Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore envisioned a greener city, she took cues from NYC’s Transport Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.
Since 2007, as part of New York City’s “PlaNYC 2030” development program, Ms Sadik-Khan has been overseeing a radical overhaul of how people get around the Big Apple. Car lanes have been closed, new dedicated cycleways established and public spaces expanded.

It’s a plan eerily similar to Ms Moore’s strategy, with more than a little echo in the “Sustainable Sydney 2030” title.

In Sydney as a guest of the city council, Ms Sadik-Khan is unabashed in saying her strategies can be implemented effectively in Australia, given a little tinkering.

“All world-class cities are taking a look at what they need to do differently, not only for the health of the planet, but for the well-being of their cities,” she told The Weekend Australian yesterday.

She also maintains it is realistic to expect Sydneysiders to leave their cars at home and cycle into the city in high numbers – come rain, hail or shine.

“They do it in Copenhagen, they do it in lots of cold climates . . . And it’s an outdoor culture here,” she says, adding that accident numbers in New York are well down where cycleways exist.

But Ms Sadik-Khan concedes she knows little of the day-to-day reality of the public transport system in Sydney.

Aaron Gadiel, chief executive of developers’ lobby group Urban Taskforce, says that any plan to encourage people out of their cars presumes a reliable, fast, transport network capable of moving those people where they need to go. “Vast areas of Sydney are very poorly serviced by public transport,” Mr Gadiel says.

With the City of Sydney looking at capping or banning parking spaces in new housing projects, the plan to favour cyclists over motorists also effectively shuts out the elderly, disabled and young families from the inner city — creating a monoculture of young singles, childless couples and students.

Given an insight into some of the problems, Ms Sadik-Khan concedes that “you can’t wish people on to buses”.

“An effective transit system is the mark of a world-class city,” she says. “New York City has been lucky in its development because in 1904 when the first subway was built, that actually laid out how the city would develop. We’re really the grand-daddy of transit oriented development.”

As an advocate of a congestion tax on city motorists (a levy was passed by the New York City Council but rejected by state legislators in 2008), Ms Sadik-Khan has been decried by critics, including many small business owners, as an “anti-car radical” and “elitist”.

New York Magazine even credited her with sparking a “peculiar new culture war – over the automobile”.

“Change is always difficult,” she says with a wry smile when asked about the resistance to her work.

“There are 8.4 million New Yorkers and sometimes it feels like there are 8.4 million traffic engineers.”

Ms Moore would do well to take note.