Archive | June, 2011

Sydney rebranded…

27 Jun

Sydney’s landmark tower has been rebranded. The iconic Sydney Tower has been labelled with not one but two Westfield signs measuring 20m long and six metres high.

The giant logos were winched into place by two helicopters Sunday morning during an orchestrated operation that was several months in planning.

The Westfield sign marks the recently re-opened iconic Westfield Sydney shopping centre which lies beneath.


While AMP managed the Centrepoint shopping centre, the tower was officially referred to as “AMP Tower”. After Westfield Group took over ownership of Centrepoint in December 2001, the tower reverted to its original name of Sydney Tower.

Construction of the office building commenced in 1970, and tower construction began in 1975. Public access to the tower, at the time the fourth tallest building in the world, began in September 1981. The total cost of construction was A$ 36 million.

Prior to construction of the tower, the height limit in Sydney had been set at 279 m, to allow for safe overflights by flying boats, an aircraft type that had been obsolescent for almost two decades.

There are three main sections of the tower open to public access. One is the observation deck at 250 metres above ground level with a fully-enclosed viewing platform featuring 360 degree views of the city and surrounds. This floor also features a small gift shop, a readout displaying data on the conditions of the tower (wind speed, direction and sway amplitude). The Sydney Tower Skywalk platform at 268 metres above ground level has an open-air viewing platform only accessible as part of planned and booked tours.

There are also revolving restaurants, one à la carte and one buffet. The buffet restaurant was recently (2006) renovated. It seats 220 people, and serves 185,000 customers annually, of which 50,000 are international visitors, mostly from Asia.



Circular Quay soon to put on a new face

22 Jun

Carolyn Cummins SMH, May 16, 2011

The city-wall as seen from the Cahill Expressway. This is a cool spot and an urban vista rarely appreciated.

THE state government has approved the redevelopment of Goldfields House, one of the oldest office blocks on Circular Quay.

02- Goldfields House 1966 Peddle Thorp and Walker

The wonderfully ’60s forecourt to Goldfield’s House- presumably doomed…

Also on Circular Quay, AMP Capital Investors recently appointed Mirvac to redevelop the office tower formerly occupied by Coca-Cola Amatil. The 15-storey building was completed in 1966 for Coca-Cola, but the drink manufacturer has moved to Investa Property’s Ark building at 40 Mount Street, North Sydney.

03- Coca-Cola Amatil Building 1966- seen here nestled between Mirvac’s Quay Grand and the Cahill Expressway. The limestone panels on the Coke building were recently renovated.

Mirvac owns the Quay Grand Hotel at Circular Quay.

Valad, which is the subject of a takeover offer by the US property group Blackstone, said in its March quarter update on Thursday that the Sydney Local Environment Plan 2005 (Amendment No. 2), which was previously approved by the Sydney City Council, has been gazetted by the government.

04- Quay Grand Hotel at Circular Quay

”This enables Valad to pursue development approval for the redevelopment of Goldfields House,” Valad’s acting chief executive, Clem Salwin, said last week.

Valad originally lodged plans to include a 191-metre tall apartment block and adjoining retail and office complex. The nearby Australia Square is 170 metres.

But after wrangling with City of Sydney Council, the development approval was halted.

Despite the takeover attempt by Blackstone, internal management changes and large debt levels, Valad has been targeting Asian investors over the past year in its marketing of the apartments, which will have harbour views.

Property agents say the value of apartments in and around Circular Quay is upwards of $34,000 a square metre. Apartments overlooking the Opera House have sold for as much as $10 million.

Goldfields House is one of the oldest buildings on the Quay.


Penthouse crowd taking over office space

Carolyn Cummins and Jonathan Chancellor SMH April 18, 2008

THE cream of Sydney’s office towers are under threat from developers wanting to turn harbourside skyscrapers into luxury residential abodes.

The latest, Goldfields House at Circular Quay, is set to be replaced by a $1 billion, 33-storey apartment tower. Construction on the historic harbour gateway site is scheduled for 2011 at the earliest.

Its joint developer Valad, which purchased the 30-storey office tower in 2006 for $274 million, has interim approval from the Central Sydney Planning Committee. The company now intends to hold an international architectural competition.

Several buildings, including the Scullers Arms hotel, were demolished to make way for Goldfields House, which was designed by Peddle Thorp and Walker and completed in 1966.

The proposal has provisional approval from the NSW Heritage Council, given the works are within metres of the Tank Stream.

Its views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge should ensure high prices for its proposed 124 apartments – the smallest of which, at 135 square metres, would cost at least $4 million based on current prices.

Recent sales of harbourside units have averaged $3 million, but Sydney’s record apartment price stands at $16.8 million for the 260-square-metre penthouse in the nearby Bennelong building that was sold this year. The block was built after several Macquarie Street office blocks were demolished, including the 1958 Unilever House, the building closest to the Opera House.

05- Unilever House (1958) seen here in the late sixties. Bird’s-eye view of wharves and office buildings with the Sydney Opera House and Government House in the background, Jack Hickson, 1968.

The conversion of Circular Quay could gather pace when Coca-Cola Amatil quits its longstanding headquarters in 2010 and heads to North Sydney.

The Quay apartment block on Phillip Street was the first harbourfront residential venture following the slump in the city office market in the early 1980s.

06- Quay apartment block, Phillip Street 1982

But its developer, Trustees Executors, went into liquidation during the 1983 credit squeeze and John Lewis’s Concrete Constructions took over the project.

There are now 95 residential blocks throughout the city, up from 28 in 1994. The Astor on Macquarie Street was Sydney’s most prestigious high-rise block when it was completed in 1923.

07- Astor, Macquarie Street 1923



Manly Ferry and Unilever Building, David Moore, 1958.


Mirvac upbeat as sales hit target
Carolyn Cummins SMH, May 18, 2011

Sales success … 94 per cent of the apartments in the ERA Chatswood development have already been sold.

MIRVAC is confident it can weather any housing downturn after sales at the new Chatswood ERA development broke all records for a weekend campaign.

Although the group warns the residential sector will be hit by any rise in interest rates, it has reaffirmed its 2010-11 year net profit guidance and earnings of 10.4¢-10.6¢ per stapled security.

At the property group’s March quarter update yesterday, the managing director, Nick Collishaw, told investors Mirvac remained on track to deliver strong earnings growth of ”between 12 to 14 per cent”.

Read more:


01- ERA Chatswood- A computer-generated image of an apartment at Mirvac’s ERA, Chatswood, Sydney

Glorious psychedelic cacophony for starters

16 Jun

AS an array of colours and shapes bounced off the roof of the Sydney Opera House after the opening of Vivid Sydney on Friday night, inside at the Opera Theatre English space rock ensemble Spiritualized was employing its own kind of light show to colour its creations.

Spiritualized was there to perform its third and most critically acclaimed album, Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space, a landmark in post Britpop psychedelia released in 1997. It’s an album that is by turn delicate, mournful, hypnotic and, in terms of creating a really intense racket, quite beautiful.

Main man Jason Pierce prefers the enigmatic approach to stage performance.

He sat down for the entire show, off to one side with his music stand, a microphone and an electric guitar.

For this gig he had plenty of collaborators to help him recreate his best work, including an eight-piece choir (in appropriate smocks), a similarly sized string section and six horn players, most of whom were recruited in Sydney.

That was in addition to the rock nucleus of bass, drums, two guitarists, a percussionist and a keyboards player. You felt it might be loud. And so it was.

Initially, as they launched into the title song as an opener, it was hard to tell if the guitar feedback was a technical fault or part of the set, but as the show progressed it became clear that every dynamic shift and nuance, even the severest barrage of white noise, was deliberate.

Pierce’s songs often have a dirge-like repetitiveness, either in the sense of stripped-back melancholy or in the way the instrumentation builds slowly around one theme until it becomes a ball of static directed straight at your eardrums.

These attacks were the best parts of this performance, even if the decibel level did have some unsuspecting festivalgoers stuffing bits of paper into their ears by the end of the fifth song, Stay with Me.

The highlight was the closing, 17-minute psychedelic groove of Cop Shoot Cop. This glorious cacophony featured the entire ensemble. The combination of heavy percussive rumble with strings, horns and guitars going full tilt and the strobe lighting used to illuminate it made it as thrillingly intense as a fairground ride you never want to get off.

Quieter moments such as the gospel-tinged Come Together and Broken Heart allowed the subtleties being played by the strings and horns to push through. Elsewhere they were contributing to the whole without being distinct.

With the album done, they came back on for Out of Sight, a standout from Spiritualized’s first album Let it Come Down.

Its more restrained, poppy groove was a comedown, but pleasantly so after the onslaught before it. You’d want an act to open your festival that lived up to the title Vivid Live. Spiritualized did that with ease.


400,000 attend the biggest ever Vivid Sydney


NSW Deputy Premier, Andrew Stoner, has declared Vivid Sydney 2011 a record success, with sell-out music concerts, huge crowds experiencing over 40 light installations and packed creative ideas sessions.

Vivid Sydney cemented its popularity, as over 400,000 attendees from Sydney, Australia and the rest of the world experienced events around Circular Quay from the Sydney Opera House to The Rocks. From jets of flame shooting out of Campbells Cove at FireDance to world exclusive concert performances by artists, including The Cure at Sydney Opera House and events for creative industry professionals, the festival offered something for everyone. Vivid Sydney catered for families, young people, seniors, creatives, tourists and everyone in between.

Vivid Sydney is a ground breaking event model. The spectacular festival not only provided entertainment for the public and attracted visitors, but also proved to be an excellent platform for creative industry events. There is no doubt the international spotlight was shining on Sydney over the past 18 nights, that showcased our creative industries credentials to the world.

Vivid Sydney executive producer, Ignatius Jones, said the success of the 2011 festival was a credit to the passion and talent of the creative teams involved in the event. Reminiscing the dazzling display of sound and lights Jones added, “it’s been a fantastic journey this year and an absolute pleasure to work with Events NSW who have a strong vision to create a festival that puts Sydney on the map globally as the creative hub of the Asia Pacific. Events NSW estimate Vivid Sydney will generate up to $10 million in economic benefit for the State.

“We knew this year’s festival would be popular, but we were blown away at seeing such huge crowds down at the festival, night after night enjoying colourful jellyfish swimming across the Sydney Opera House sails, painting digital light graffiti on the Museum of Contemporary Art and watching the awe inspiring 3D projections on Customs House” said Jones.

Vivid LIVE at Sydney Opera House and the Vivid Sydney music program, featured over 30 ticketed events, including a number of Sydney and world exclusive performances from artists such as The Cure, Bat for Lashes, Cut Copy and Spiritualized. Over 35,000 tickets were sold, in addition to 4,500 tickets to interstate and overseas visitors, which generated a $2.34 million gross box office. This makes it the most successful Vivid LIVE yet for Sydney Opera House. As an astonishing achievement, around 59 per cent of the tickets were sold to a new audience.


Through the looking glass and beyond

6 Jun

Yuko Narushima, SMH June 4, 2011

Welcoming … light and and airy spaces draw a constant flow of patrons to Surry Hills library.

Technology and changing habits are transforming libraries the world over, writes Yuko Narushima.

In the library of the future, a robot will find the book you want, remove it from its shelf and deliver it to a service counter for your collection.

It will take minutes between ordering the book online and having the pages in your hands.

That library is being built at Macquarie University, which will become the first Australian university to install a robotic crane as part of an automated storage and retrieval system. By putting 80 per cent of its stack in a compressed space, the university can keep its collection on site.

The new $70m Macquarie University Library will be built on vacant land south of buildings W3A, C3A and C3B along Macquarie Drive and will open in 2010. Designed by Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp it represents a new generation of library design – full of dynamic spaces for learning, rather than the traditional notion of a library only as a quiet, storage facility for printed materials.

That is a luxury other libraries are giving up. The University of NSW and the University of Sydney are cutting back on hard copies, either by discarding duplicates or moving titles into storage.

All over the world, libraries are coming to grips with the limits of shelf space and the changing demands of their members.

The University of Oxford faced opposition when it ran out of shelves at the centuries-old Bodleian Library and trucked books to what The Guardian called an ”unlovely but pragmatic” industrial estate on the outskirts of Swindon, 45 kilometres away.

When the Ernest S. Bird Library, at Syracuse University in the US, tried to move books 400 kilometres away, staff and students ran a campaign to ”free Bird” and keep the tomes close.

Syracuse University’s main library is the Brutalist classic Ernest S. Bird Library, which opened in 1972. Its seven levels contain 2.3 million books, 11,500 periodicals, 45,000 feet (14,000 m) of manuscripts and rare books, 3.6 million microforms, and a café.

So the University of Sydney librarian, John Shipp, was prepared when protesters united on Facebook to fight the renovation planned at the Fisher Library. Students and staff borrowed 1100 books in a single hour to save them from storage. Of those 160 hadn’t been borrowed since 1979.

”Touching an icon like Fisher Library has to engender some protest. You would expect it to,” Shipp says. ”In universities where they care about scholarship, there’s always protest.”

Uncatalogued gems worth thousands have been unearthed at Fisher. Since the removal process began, librarians have discovered a first edition of Indian Currency and Finance by John Maynard Keynes and an 1892 copy of The Story of a Puppet or the Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, and moved them to the cherished rare book collection. Shipp expects to find 18,000 more.

The library manager for the City of Sydney, David Sharman, says public libraries are also changing. Their function has gone from a warehouse for books to a pleasant place in which people want to spend time. There, the focus on book preservation of 40 years ago is now balanced against the demands of visitors, who want more than to sit on a patch of carpet with a book on their lap.

”The belief at the time was that books and light don’t mix because it makes the paper fade,” he says. ”We’ve gone full circle because natural light and people do mix.”

Libraries are becoming airier. Rows of shelves are opening out to lounges and cafes. Desks come with powerpoints for students to plug in laptops and sunlight passes over squat shelves that no longer need a ladder for access.

Search engines have also changed the information people look for. Requests for low-level information – what Sharman calls ”Wikipedia-level references” – have given way to increased interest in niche information. Search engines and websites such as Wikipedia satisfy the initial demand for information.

”[Wikipedia] may be right, it may be wrong, but it will give you an answer,” Sharman says.

The digitisation of reference material, including encyclopedias and dictionaries, also delivers access to quality information at home. Library members can log on using their library card number and trawl through databases in their lounge rooms.

For fiction, demand in libraries for e-books has so far been small. Instead of shifting novels online, community libraries are tailoring hardcopy collections to match the interests of their members.

In Surry Hills, for example, the library carries extra titles on art and design. Expectant mothers read up on parenting and first home-owners peruse books on decorating.

The Haymarket library Sydney Council library branch. Formerly CBC Bank (1873).

In Waterloo, young families prefer a more traditional collection, with books for young readers. The Haymarket library has the city’s Asian language collection. Across a number of libraries, graphic novels, or comic books, are pulling the traditionally hard-to-lure demographic aged between 20 and 30, Sharman says.

”There’s some serious literature written in this form now. People immediately think of male teenagers but there’s an entire literary world of graphic novels,” he says. For the nine inner-city libraries he manages, 25 per cent of visitors are tertiary students, he says, many of whom live in share houses and are seeking a pleasant space to spend time. And librarians are less inclined to hush chatter, perhaps in the recognition that their buildings are becoming meeting places for people seeking free public space, indoors.

In the new Ryde Library, shelves are arranged in Y-shapes according to genre. Books on health are clustered. Home and garden titles sit together.

”Like a bookshop,” the library services manager, Jill Webb, says. The furniture and bookshelves float on wheels to allow for easy reconfiguration.

Webb expects libraries to change further. It would be a brave librarian to predict what the library of 2030 would look like, she says.

”Where libraries are going is something of an unknown. The best thing that we can do is be very open-minded and be willing and able to change,” she says.

While the automated system coming to Macquarie might work for a research library – where members know what they are looking for – community libraries cater for a different set of readers.

Public libraries are committed to an open stack that gives people direct access to the books, Sharman says. ”We have a lot of use from people browsing. They say, ‘I’m after a design book. Even if they’re after a particular one, once they get to the section there’s usually two or three that will catch their eyes,” he says.

”There’s no doubt digital books and information are becoming increasingly important,” says Sharman, ”but the paper book has still got a long way to go yet.”

House Magazine's 2011 House awards

4 Jun

My friends over at House Magazine’s 2011 House awards site (Melbourne based) sent me alink.
I have showcased below the most striking NSW entrants. The 2011 Australian House of the Year will be anounced on July 15th. Meanwhile, here is a smattering-

01. Glass Loggia House by Allen Jack+Cottier ( )
Rustic, eccentric feel.

02. Haberfield House by Lahz Nimmo Architects ( )
Photos- Brett Boardman
Face brick and breeze blocks.

04. Southern House by Fergus Scott Architects ( )
Photos- Michael Nicholson

05. House 20 by Jolson Architecture and Interiors ( )
Photos- Peter Bennetts
This one is actually in Victoria but I included it as it was so good.

06. Freshwater House by Brewster Hjorth Architects ( )
Photos- Christian Mushenko

07. Camperdown House_1 by Carterwilliamson Architects ( )
Photos- Brett Boardman


Venice Biennale: The ‘It’ Bag

3 Jun

June 2, 2011, CAROL VOGEL, NYT.

It’s something of a tradition here that when the National pavilions dole out information on their artists, the papers and catalogs generally come with a handy tote bag.  Both a practical object and a free ad (they usually have an image of some sort and the name of the country on them) some are always more in demand than others.

Venice Biennale- This year one particular stand-out can be found at the Australian pavilion: it’s gold lamé and has the name of the artist — Hany Armanious — emblazoned in black letters and the rest of the information in bright red.  Officials there said within three hours on Wednesday they had dispensed with more than 2,000 of them and as they’re getting scarcer this season’s “it” bag is becoming a collector’s item. One man even asked for two of them so he could turn them into a pair of shorts.

Mr. Armanious was on hand to talk about his exhibition, appropriately named “The Golden Thread,’’ which includes a group of sculptures in the form of familiar images and found objects.

The artist acknowledged that he had a hand in the design of the tote bag. “It’s obviously playing with the title of the show, a subtle signifier,’’ he said, then paused and added, “I wish I had had the foresight to include a matching hat.’’