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Broadway's role in city life on the rise

5 Dec

Kelsey Munro, Jen Rosenberg SMH December 3, 2011

The price of good design

IN A few years, an unloved and unlovely part of the city will have been transformed into ”a gallery of eminent architects”, with new buildings by three Pritzker Prize winners, a 6400-square-metre park and a power station.

Investments totalling $1.5 billion from the University of Technology, Sydney, along with the joint venture developing the former Carlton&United Breweries site near Central Station, are set to reshape the southern end of the city centre.

On Broadway’s south side, a 33-storey residential tower shrouded in elaborate vertical gardens is rising around a new landscaped park, remnant brewery buildings and a planned tri-generation power station to supply the new complex.

Terraced gardens at One Central Park. Artist’s impression.

A cantilevered heliostat at the top of the building will direct light into the complex and become a digital artwork at night.

One Central Park

One Central Park, Sydney. Artist’s impression.

”There’s no doubt it’s going to be a stunning transformation over the next five years,” Guy Pahor, of Frasers Property, said.

Frasers is developing the One Central Park site in a joint venture with Sekisui House. ”Broadway’s going to be transformed, not just by the nature and volume of the construction, but the quality – call it a gallery of eminent architects,” he said.

With Gehry, there are Jean Nouvel, Richard Johnson, Norman Foster and vertical-garden pioneer Patrick Blanc in the internationals.

Atelier Jean Nouvel, residential towers with the heliostat illuminated at night time. Central Park. Artist’s impression.

Australian firms include Tzannes Associates, Tonkin Zulaikha Greer, Denton Corker Marshall and Durbach Block Jaggers.

Gehry, Nouvel and Foster have won the Pritzker, architecture’s highest honour.

When the first stage of One Central Park is finished in late 2013, there will be about 1900 new apartments for 2500 residents and space for 5400 workers in offices and a four-storey mall.

Richard Johnson buildings, Cental Park. Artist’s impression.

The developer has worked to sway objectors angry at the height of the towers, holding several community forums, investing in a public art program and allowing local artists to work rent-free in heritage warehouses on the site.

Atelier Jean Nouvel, residential towers, Central Park. Artist’s impression.


For UTS, the development was as much about creating an education hub for the whole area as it was expanding its footprint, the vice-chancellor, Ross Milbourne, said.

”The exciting thing about this project is that it takes an area that has been quite rundown – it’s always been the poor cousin to the rest of Sydney – and it’s really reinventing itself to be a cultural and educational precinct.”

Across the road, the base of the 27-storey brutalist concrete UTS tower will be wrapped in an undulating glass facade, and construction starts in March on a new 14-storey faculty building dramatically sheathed in angular aluminium on the corner of Broadway and Jones Street.

Off Harris Street, the university is also building Australia’s first Frank Gehry building, with its distinctive crumpled facade and treehouse-like skeleton, which caused much controversy when plans were unveiled late last year.

UTS’s Dr Chau Chak Wing building, designed by Frank Gehry, his first Australian project. The 16,030-square-meter (172,545-square-foot) business school building at the University of Technology, Sydney, will have a “treehouse” design, incorporating a core yellow brick and crinkly glass structure, with “branches” spreading away from it, Gehry says.

Significantly, the site engages with the adjacent abandoned railway line and bridge and will feed into the pedestrian zone further up.


Professor Milbourne said the university had planned its growth to benefit students and the neighbourhood. ”We have a plan for student growth on our campus but part of it is to make it a better student experience, so more space for students … increasing student housing around this area and making it a safer environment,” he said.

The Broadway redesign links two other big redevelopments – Darling Harbour and Barangaroo – but has managed much of the latter’s controversy.

Professor Milbourne and the UTS deputy vice-chancellor (resources), Patrick Woods, attribute that to strong collaboration with the neighbours. These include the ABC, the Powerhouse Museum and TAFE.

Atelier Jean Nouvel, residential towers, Central Park. Artist’s impression.

David Riordan, director of TAFE NSW-Sydney Institute, said the relationship between the two institutions was very positive.

”This is going to be the hub of education in Australia and we believe that we’re here to meet those needs and that we’ll be a key player,” Mr Riordan said.

Copyright SMH

Metro Plaza Central- Latest rumblings from the Haymarket.

18 Jul

The UTS campus and the Haymarket area in general (including Chinatown) is emerging as one of Sydney’s demographic and cultural hot spots (Central Park, the Gehry building, etc, etc). Below is some info on a proposed multi-res development by Metroland on a long dormant site.

Metro Plaza Central, Haymarket

Haymarket, Metro Plaza Central with 15 levels of luxury residential apartments, (studios or one, two and three bedroom layouts). The lower levels will contain 3 floors of retail shops plus restaurants and underground parking.
Metro Plaza central will be diagonally situated across from UTS’ new Faculty of Business to be designed by Frank Ghery. Pre-sales and construction were expected to commence in September 2010 (stated on website).

This site has been used as a carpark since the ’80s. An old market Federation Warehouse style facade has been preserved on the corner. Many of these facades have been cleverly reused in the Haymarket area and have maintained the market character of the area (see below for examples).

I don’t think that the Metroland scheme actually deals successfully with the old facade element- in fact it is very difficult



75 Quay Street
2 basements
ground floor retail
10 storeys office
12th floor-plant
office space-26,300sqm +retail
carspace-62+ 82 public
developer-NGI management
Architects-Watermark Architecture & Interiors Pty Ltd
floor plate-U shape with full height internal void.
feature-incorporates 1912 brick facade

Image- Culwulla

Above- the original scheme.

An alternative design by the Smart Design Studio. Cor!


Also in the UTS area-

Beauty and science unite as UTS campus development unfolds

07 Jul 2011

In summary:

Building plans have been unveiled for a gently undulating building inspired by the organic forms of a tree grove, to be located at the heart of UTS’s city campus and to serve the evolving needs of the UTS Science Faculty
The design for the building was won by Sydney practice Durbach Block Jaggers, in association with BVN Architecture as part of a design competition held recently
The building will be part of the billion-dollar city campus masterplan.


Under new plans that have just been unveiled, a gently undulating building inspired by the organic forms of a tree grove will soon sit at the heart of UTS’s city campus.

The proposal for a new Thomas Street building by Sydney practice Durbach Block Jaggers, in association with BVN Architecture, was declared the winner of a design competition recently held by the university as part of its visionary City Campus Master Plan.

The Thomas Street Building will mainly service the Faculty of Science, said Vice-Chancellor Professor Ross Milbourne. However, its position overlooking Alumni Green, the university’s principal open space, means that the building will also have an important civic role to play.

“The architects have proposed a building with a sensitive, human-scale character,” said Professor Milbourne. “The design responds to the vibrancy of campus life while also ensuring that we have the facilities we need for ground-breaking teaching, learning and research.”

Professor Milbourne believes the sensitive character will be exemplified by an organic undulation of the façade overlooking the campus’s Alumni Green and a subtle variation in the grid of windows to envelop the structure. At ground level, colonnaded arcades will connect the Green to both Thomas Street and Jones Street.

Internally, the architect’s proposal maximises the amount of floor space available to the university while also creating large, flexible floor plates that connect to the neighbouring, existing Science Building.

“A key challenge was to reconcile the seemingly clinical function of the building with its position at the edge of the university’s inner sanctum,” said Durbach Block Jaggers principal Neil Durbach. “Creating an animated façade similar to a tree branching was one strategy but we worked hard to ensure this didn’t compromise the technical requirements of the building nor its green credentials.”

As a science-focused facility, the building will feature dry labs, servicing disciplines such as physics. It will also connect to the existing, adjacent UTS Science Building. Other functions proposed for the building include general teaching spaces, lecture theatre and social spaces such as a café at ground level.

The undulating frontage that overlooks Alumni Green is four-storeys high, stepping up to a linear five-storey frontage along Thomas Street. A green roof will sit on top of the Alumni-Green-facing top floor, providing the university with additional open space that could also be used for Science teaching and research.

UTS will now engage Durbach Block Jaggers and BVN to develop a concept design based on their winning proposal for UTS approval. During this design development process, the architects will work closely with the university, including the Faculty of Science.

An eight-member competition jury chose the winning proposal from a pool of seven entries by Australian architects. These seven architects were selected to participate in the design competition following a nationally advertised, open Expression of Interest process.

The university anticipates commencing excavation of the site towards the end of 2011 with construction starting around mid-2012. The new facility will be open in time for the 2014 academic year.

Durbach Block Jaggers is a small office of eight, whose work has won many state and national architectural awards including the Robin Boyd, Harry Seidler and Lloyd Rees Awards.

BVN Architecture is one of Australia’s largest architectural practices. They were the authors of the UTS City Campus 2020 Master Plan. Durbach Block Jaggers and BVN Architecture have collaborated together many times.

The Thomas Street Building is one of the new buildings proposed under UTS’s City Campus Master Plan, a $1billion transformation that will redefine UTS and Sydney’s southern CBD.


Historical Notes


Governor Bourke decided in 1834 to move traders in hay and grain to a site next to the new cattle market in Campbell Street, Sydney.  This area became colloquially known as Haymarket.  Governor Bourke’s decision to allow the market to stay open until 10pm on Saturdays marks the real beginnings of what we know today as Sydney’s Paddy’s Markets.

By 1842, when the markets came under the jurisdiction of Sydney Council, the Saturday Paddy’s-style market was well established

Paddy’s Markets

The origin of the name Paddy’s has been in use since at least the 1870s.  It was most likely “borrowed” from England.  The Irish area of Liverpool had a well known Paddy’s Market and what went on in the empty block opposite the market sheds was in essence the same as our original Paddy’s.

A Paddy’s Market was an open air affair, a mixture of merry-go-rounds, sideshows, saveloy sellers, farmers with produce and animals for sale, second hand dealers, craftsmen and members of the rag trade.

Thomas Street

Field House and Thomas Street is named after Thomas and Herbert Field, two brothers who emigrated with their families in 1885 from Kent, England.  The two brothers found their niche in the fresh produce market and developed a booming business in the heart of Sydney’s trade centre.  By the time of World War 1 the Field brothers controlled one-third of Sydney’s wholesale meat business.  By 1931 T. A. Field Ltd had grown into a meat and pastoral empire, with headquarters in Thomas Street, Sydney, and interests extending throughout eastern Australia.

During the great depression the Field brothers opened their doors to house the governments Outdoor Relief and Stores Department.  This Department carried out major assistance to the needy citizens of Sydney by providing basic dietary requirements.  Over the years, economic and natural disasters placed immense pressures on the resources, reaching a peak when in 1930 over 10,000 people were assisted each week and 3,705 tons of food was distributed over the year.  The location of the Thomas Street premises being so close to Central Station meant that an Outpatients Department and Dispensary also operated there 7 days a week until the mid 1950’s.

Durbach Block- Architects carve their own space

8 Apr

Robert Bevan, The Australian March 18, 2011

Above- the Roslyn Street Kings Cross bar and restaurant by Durbach Block (2008). This is a wee gem of a building. The Spanish restauranteur ran out when he saw me taking photos and enthusiastically espoused the “Spanish Gaudiesque” qualities of the building.

BY making solids, you make voids, says architect Camilla Block. When an object is built, a space is also shaped around it.
The geometric principle is simple, but some designers – in awe of creating the spectacular facade or beautiful details – put space-making too far down their list of priorities.

Not so Durbach Block Jaggers. The Sydney-based architecture practice has made its name (until recently as Durbach Block) by making the space in and around its buildings crucial to its modernism. In so doing, the firm is part of a heavy-duty alternative to the mainstream of Australian architecture. “We make the garden central to what we do,” Block says.

Sydney-based architects Neil Durbach and Camilla Block on the rooftop space they created in the city’s Kings Cross. Picture: Sam Mooy Source: The Australian

There’s a garden at the heart of the 2009 Sussan Group Headquarters in Melbourne that the practice built for Naomi Milgrom, and a roof garden with grassy knoll and frangipanis crowns its bump-and-grind Barcelona building in Sydney’s Kings Cross. The curvy white-tiled homage to Spanish expressionist Antoni Gaudi is also home to the eight-strong DBJ studio.

National award for commercial architecture … Sussan and Sportgirl’s headquarters, Cremorne, VIC, designed by Durbach Block Architects. Photo: Patrick Bingham Hall.

Commonwealth Place in Canberra, on axis with Parliament House.

Garden House in Sydney. Corbusian villa.

The slate includes domestic, commercial and public projects. At the large scale, the architects’ award-winning Commonwealth Place created an undulating part-building, part-landscape for the ceremonial parliamentary axis of Canberra. At the small scale is a residence such as Garden House in Sydney, in the running for this year’s Australian Institute of Architects Awards.

A sculpted L-shaped block, Garden House has a conventional floor plan but its verticals (its section) are scooped away or bowed in places to create complex forms where the garden invades the house and vice versa. There is a wonderful external staircase sheltered by a narrow niche that is polished to a high sheen.

“The garden is present above you, below you, beyond you, beside you,” Block says. Her business partner Neil Durbach describes the building, with its miniature edifices and squares, as “a small city with lots of distinct moments”.

Glenn Murcutt’s influential call that Australian building should follow Aboriginal advice and “touch the earth lightly” has become the generator of a national architecture: a language of timber, screens and floating platforms that, internationally, is seen as the country’s most successful contribution to quality design.

Durbach and Block’s work, however, is almost the antithesis to this celebrated national school and is instead characterised by a desire to create permanent and definite markers of human presence on a vast landscape.

“It is not about tiptoeing on the earth,” Block says. “It is about being embedded in it and loving it.”

Durbach says he is more interested in mass than weightlessness, and describes the ephemeral nature of much Australian architecture as romantic at best. “At its worse, it is incredibly exclusive. I feel like I will never really be Australian enough to get it. Overseas it is always picked up; it is seen as exotic and I suppose it is.”

Durbach came to Australia in 1983 after he had escaped conscription in South Africa and studied in the US.

“I read this huge article in Rolling Stone magazine about Australian film – the last of the Mad Max films, Breaker Morant, you know – and I thought that [creative opportunity] was very possible for architecture, too,” he says.

“I’m not a real Australian either,” says Block. Born in South Africa, she moved here aged 12.

Durbach’s first success was with architect Harry Levine, winning the job to create a new wing at Tusculum, the NSW home of the AIA. He taught Block in the final year of her studies at the University of Sydney and a decade ago they together formed Durbach Block and went on to build a series of houses: most famously the Spry House and the Holman House that won them international acclaim. The houses may inhabit clifftop eyries but there is nothing flighty about these concrete dwellings.

Spry House (image- Durbach Block)

Holman House (image- Durbach Block)

Unlike many architectural duos, Durbach and Block don’t work as a yin-yang pairing (typically one being the business force and the other the design ace) but instead share similar obsessions.

Both admire what Durbach calls “that incredible plastic quality of modernism” present in the work of architects such as Alvar Aalto, or in the post-war work of Le Corbusier and Eero Saarinen that moved away from rigid functionalism to something softer and more humane.

The Garden House is made of heavy recycled brick, used with the rough face outwards, then whitewashed. It is reminiscent of the summer house Aalto built for himself in a Finnish forest. Corbusian elements regularly find their way into Durbach and Block’s work, in the way a rap artist may sample a class hook.

It’s fitting, then, that DBJ is designing an important exhibition on Le Corbusier next year at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum. As well as more than 100 original items from the Corbusier Foundation in Paris, the show will include full-scale mock-ups of an apartment from the 1940s Unite D’habitation development in Marseilles and of the arch-modernist’s cabin retreat which, Durbach and Block observe, may be an antidote to Australia’s obsession with bigness when it comes to housing. Australians build the world’s biggest, most greedy homes. “It is tiny, 4m x 4m, and he called it his palace,” says Durbach of Le Corbusier’s modest cabin. “It shows how people can live beautifully and purposefully.”

Block says that while contemporary Australian houses may have five bedrooms, a media room and an ensuite for everyone, they have lost the luxury of spaciousness: they have only the merest smear of greenery around them. Durbach and Block’s experimental scheme for an alternative, the Infinity House, won them a brick industry award last year. The 250sqm figure-of-eight glass and brick home can house up to two families, separated by the narrow waist of the “eight” (actually the infinity symbol), and is wrapped in gardens to the point that there is almost no useful separation between garden and house.

Infinity House (image- Durbach Block)

It is obvious that Durbach and Block (now joined by long-term employee David Jaggers) wildly enjoy what they do. But has their initial perception of endless possibilities for architecture in Australia been borne out?

Yes, says Durbach: “It is still true, but there are deeper problems. Australia has become so anxious,” he says, citing his suburb of Bondi Beach as an example, with its endless regulations and prohibitions: no drinking, no smoking, no dogs on the beach.

Australia has become, he says, one of the most highly governed Western countries. He quotes research that suggests Australians, more than nearly all other nations, welcome government involving itself in their daily lives.

At the beach, DBJ has found its way through the regulatory tangle with a scheme for the new North Bondi Surf Lifesaving Club, an inhabited sculpture with a roof garden crowning its three stories.

The ground floor will be for storage, changing rooms and nippers, the middle floor the observation deck and radio room, and the top floor the bar. Its front is cut away, as if a shark has taken a bite, to visually connect its “beautiful courtyard” with the ocean.

It is an ambitious building for the urban seaside, an environment that, strangely, Australian architects have been consistently poor at responding to.

The approvals have been given and 75 per cent of the money has been raised, so work should start soon. The aim, says Durbach, is a “genuinely public building” that users can wind their way in and out of, exploiting its different levels of entry. With a commission for a surf club that touches the earth weightily, Durbach and Block are in danger of losing their outsider status.


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.


Australia's "best" architecture- 2009 awards.

15 May

Here we have a collection of the same old tired 60s-70s forms going to the same old bunch of people. Enjoy!

01. The Robyn Boyd award for residential house architecture … Freshwater House, Harbord, NSW, designed by Chenchow Little Architects. Photo: John Gollings

02. National architecture award for residential house architecture … Zac’s House, Sorrento, Victoria, designed by Neeson Murcutt Architects. Photo: Brett Boardman

03. National architecture award for residential house architecture … Whale Beach House, Whale Beach, NSW, designed by Neeson Murcutt Architects. Photo: Brett Boardman

04. National commendation for residential house architecture … Arm End House, Opossum Bay, Tasmania, designed by Stuart Tanner Architects. Photo: Brett Boardman

05. The Frederick Romberg award for residential architecture (multiple housing) … Balencea Apartments, St Kilda Rd, Melbourne, VIC, designed by Wood Marsh Architecture in association with Sunland Design. Photo: Peter Bennetts

06. The national commendation for residential architecture (multiple housing) … Apartments in Cottesloe, WA, designed by Blane Brackenridge. Photo: Robert Frith

07. National award for small project architecture … Polygreen, Northcote, VIC, designed by Bellemo and Cat. Photo: Peter Hyatt

08. The Harry Seidler award for commercial architecture … The ivy hotel, Sydney, NSW, designed by Woods Bagot in collaboration with Merivale Group and Hecker Phelan and Guthrie. It also received a national award for urban design. Photo: Trevor Mein

09. National award for commercial architecture … Sussan and Sportgirl’s headquarters, Cremorne, VIC, designed by Durbach Block Architects. Photo: Patrick Bingham Hall

10. National award for commercial architecture … Bendigo Bank headquarters, Bendigo, VIC, designed by BVN Architecture and Gray Puksand. It also received a commendation for sustainable architecture. Photo: John Gollings

11. National commendation for commercial architecture … Warry Street Studio, Fortitude Valley, QLD, designed by HASSELL. Photo: Dianna Snape


Durbach Block- Of brick pits, bridges, and a building made from lawns

28 Jun

Marcus Trimble, of gravestmor, has a cool little article in the new issue of Mark Magazine, about the work of Sydney’s Durbach Block Architects; a few of the projects he covers deserve a second look.
First, there’s the abandoned “brick pit” last seen in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, in which Mad Max battled Master Blaster in a huge cage full of chainsaws… Apparently that old quarry has been transformed by Durbach Block into a kind of ecological scenic zone.
[Images: The Brick Pit Ring by Durbach Block Architects]. Continue reading