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August Construction update

1 Aug

There are half a dozen fantastic projects going up within half a mile of Central Station.

Here are some recent update pictures (changing rapidly…)

01. Central Park

That heliport still amazes me every time I walk past it. And the greenery growing on the walls. Talk about smoke and mirrors. However, it does work to set this development apart from the other boring stuff. And the site is superb too.

More images-

01A 01B 01C

02. 163 Castlereagh Street (ANZ Tower).

Up in mid-town, the new ANZ tower by Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (FJMT) has turned out wonderfully. The good detailing and sense of design that FJMT usually display on their libraries (etc) is here employed to make some urbanely relaxed inner city spaces.

More images-


02A 02B 02C

03.  Construction of the new 14-storey faculty UTS ITE Building dramatically sheathed in angular aluminium on the corner of Broadway and Jones Street. A somewhat disturbingly modern (decon) facade (modern Brutalism..) facing the main entry to the city. This may turn out badly.

More images-

03A 03B 03C

04.  The UTS Dr Chau Chak Wing Building

Just down the road from the ITE Building is the new superstar-Gehry-designed Chau Chak Wing. The facade has not started to go on but it promises to be a good one. It is also sited on an old elevated disused railway corridor that promises to become a very interesting and dynamic part of Sydney.

More images-



05. 180 Thomas Street, Haymarket. Bates Smart

Won through a City of Sydney Design Excellence Competition.
Very nice little office building, opposite the Gehry UTS building (on the old railway building. A conversion of a 10 year old plinth.




Above- a BS rendering of the completed project.


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.”

1 Bligh St: Clayton Utz's new energy-efficient Sydney home

18 May

Julie Levis, Mondaq Business Briefing, May 2, 2011
There’s a greater awareness that a move into energy-efficient buildings can neatly combine several interests of a business – the financial, the human, and the community.

As of winter 2011, Clayton Utz will have a new home in Sydney in 1 Bligh St. As it is designed to achieve a 5 Star NABERS Energy rating and has been awarded a 6 Star Green Star Office Design v2 Certified rating, the first such high-rise in Sydney, we think this is a move which will do exactly that.

GREENING UP: One of four native Australian Banksia trees was hoisted by crane to an outdoor terrace at the nearly completed 1 Bligh Street building in Sydney’s central business district Monday. It is the first Sydney building to be awarded a six-star Green Star environmental rating score. (Angela Brkic/European Pressphoto Agency).

The green features of 1 Bligh Street

1 Bligh Street is built from sustainable construction materials:

90% of the steel used comprises more than 50% recycled content the use of green concrete has meant that nearly 6,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide have not been released into the atmosphere; 80% of the parts usually made from PVC have been replaced with non-PVC materials; and over 90% of the construction waste has been recycled.

Minimising the energy consumption through a double glass façade

For the first time on a high-rise building in Australia, 1 Bligh Street will have a double glass façade – a skin that not only lets in soft natural light, but also minimises the building’s energy consumption.

It does this by stopping direct sunlight from hitting the internal glass. Between the inner and outer windows, computer-controlled sun shades track the sun and automatically adjust themselves. Air is also drawn in through natural convection from lower vents, which further cools down the façade.

A better way to generate electricity

1 Bligh St uses an innovative tri-generation system. Gas and solar energy will generate cooling, heating and electricity, which could reduce our dependence on the electricity grid by up to 25%.

On top of the building, 500 square metres of roof-mounted solar panels will capture solar energy to directly power an absorption chiller to drive the cooling systems, an advanced hybrid of VAV and chilled beam air conditioning technology.

… and to save water

The blackwater recycling technology uses waste water mined from nearby sewer mains and the base building itself, and treats it to a standard allowing it be used in toilets, cooling towers, and plant irrigation.

This means that around 90% of the water demand will come from recycled water, saving one Olympic size swimming pool of water every two weeks.

City North Substation Sydney

27 Apr

Architect- Architects Johannsen + Associates ; KannFinch Group
Construction- RC concrete frame
Date- 2010
Location- central Sydney
Style- Mondrian Folding Slab Style
Type- Substation- HV Infrastructure

1. CNS north elevation with Grid Gallery at base:

Efficient generation and delivery of power is a critical component of contemporary urban infrastructure, and was a prime driver in EnergyAustralia’s brief for replacement of the City North 33/11kV zone substation in order to meet electrical load requirements for the City of Sydney’s future growth.
The project was the subject of a design excellence competition to achieve a result that would respond to the site’s context, provide for a durable and low maintenance development, and improve the urban domain of this precinct of Sydney with effective communication of the substation’s operation building on a tradition of quality design for electrical infrastructure.
There were also very specific spatial and layout requirements to accommodate the electrical equipment and ensure safe and reliable operation for a zone substation, and a key objective was the achievement of an optimum environment for equipment operation and staff functions with minimum energy consumption. Passive design principles were to be adopted wherever possible and this required the use of natural ventilation with louvres and vents in strategic locations. Security and access provisions were also critical elements in the design resolution.

2. Grid Gallery and sculptural plinth at base of CNS


3. CNS east elevation to Sussex Street showing access doors to transformer bays


4. CNS from corner Sussex and Erskine Streets (day shot)


5. CNS from corner Sussex and Erskine Streets (evening shot)

On this highly visible site in the public domain of Darling Harbour and the periphery of the Western Distributor there was an opportunity for a contemporary and enduring design that could interpret the building’s function with references to the sources and impact of energy supply while complementing the urban context. A further opportunity was the potential for an outdoor gallery that could activate the pedestrian environment at ground level and contribute to the cultural layers of the city in this precinct.

With the substation envelope presenting a considerable bulk and visible presence in this location, it was considered necessary to break down the façade with a hierarchy of forms, materials, layers and details that would be both robust and appropriate in this context, while providing a suitable palette for the intended design concept.
Utilising a façade modulation and matrix configured around the functional elements of the substation, a ‘Mondrian’ inspired abstract aesthetic was the source of an architectural expression for a dynamic and flexible design envelope that could be site responsive, portray a sense of the building’s function and convey an impression of the transformation of energy within and the transmission of power beyond. This façade system also provided a rationale for future commercial development on the existing substation site to the south, and references to the materials, details and varying scales of buildings surrounding the site.
”A Mondrian abstract is the most compact imaginable pictorial harmony…. At the same time it stretches far beyond its borders so that it seems a fragment of a larger cosmos”
David Sylvester, About Modern Art: Critical Essays, 1948 – 1997

In the CNS project, the Mondrian aesthetic has been employed to express the idea of an energy source continually transmitting outwards through a distribution grid. The coloured and illuminated glass panels integrated into the building’s gridded façade create a subtle representation of an ‘energy pulse’, provide an abstract reference to the transmission of energy to the Sydney grid implying the electric current flowing into and out of the CNS.
The design seeks to maintain the client’s corporate objective of ensuring that the substation does not seek or compete for attention in its urban setting, but is however consistent with the intention to provide a substation expressive of its function on a prime CBD site. The outcome is both contemporary and enduring in providing a visual transition between the varying forms, scales and colours of the surrounding CBD, residential and entertainment zones.
On both street frontages provision has been made for display of static and digital art. Grid Gallery has recently opened as part of Sydney’s VIVID festival and is Sydney’s first public and media-based gallery space dedicated solely to the exhibition of digital art. This project is unique because there is both a physical and virtual exhibition space. This website is a key component, allowing visitors to view the online gallery and artists to submit work.
Photos : Michael Nicholson Photograph

City North Substation photos / information from Architects Johannsen + Associates

World Architecture Festival Awards – Shortlisted Building

The Renaissance wonders of Sydney

2 Apr

Sydney is actually home to a large amount of Renaissance-inspired architecture.

01- Image- Palazzo Strozzi, Florence.
Real Renaissance palazzo in Florence- the source of so much Western architecture.

From approximately 1910 to 1940, the dominant style for Sydney commercial architecture was that of the commercial pallazo.

02- Image- Union Club (1883- 87, demolished).
Based on Barry’s great Reform Club in London, Renaissance language used here to denote dependability and connection with high culture.

This was partly due to the conservative nature of Australian architecture, and partly due to the height limit set (150 ft until 1961) after the scandalously gigantic Culwulla Chambers.

03- Image- Culwulla Chambers, Warehouse style.
The more radical but domestic style of Federation Freestyle. Decidedly unsophisticated.

Above- the hulking mass of Culwulla Chambers shocked Sydneysiders. Anything this high was banned until 1961.

Up until 1910, high buildings in Sydney has been based on either Victorian of Federation/Queen Anne/Warehouse style. This style was, however, somewhat pedestrian for the great commercial buildings that were growing like mushrooms during the 1920s. A more impressive style was needed.

04- Image- University Club (1896- 1900), New York, by McKim, Mend & White.
Also based on the Reform.

05- Image- The Goelet Building (1886-87), New York, by McKim, Mead & White.
The proportions of the palazzo suddenly spring to life on a city scale.

06- Image- The Flatiron Building (1903), by D H Burnham & Co.
A massive Renaissance palazzo complete with well defined base, shaft and capitol.

In New York, McKim, Mead and White had successfully based a high-rise on a Renaissance pallazo. This was a logical thing to do, as small-scale mansions and banks had been doing this consistently through the nineteenth century. The beauty about the commercial Renaissance pallazo style was that, as the building had a well developed base and capitol, the “shaft” could be as long as required without upsetting the proportions of the building.
As this style best suited medium sized buildings without setbacks, it endured far longer in Sydney than elsewhere.

07- Image- Former Daily Telegraph Building (1912-16), King & Castlereagh Streets, Sydney, by Robertson & Marks. 155 KING STREET SYDNEY, The Trust Building.
This building, as with the Herald building below, is a superb civic jesture. As a piece of architecture it exclaims confidence in Sydney and its place in the world.
Interestingly, the Daily Telegraph was designed to house all of the newspaper’s functions, with the printing presses located in the basement and sub-basement. The greater part of the ground floor was given over to large, high, public space – the Advertising Hall – with offices on two levels grouped around it. Above it there was a complicated arrangement of low storeys, double-height storeys and mezzanines accommodating paper storage, stereo room and composing room. On the fourth floor, high-ceilinged spaces were provided for the board room, library and editorial staff, with five storeys of conventional office space above. While hardly satisfying Sullivan’s dictum about form following function, the Daily Telegraph’s facades loosely acknowledged the existence of the differing activities going on behind them, especially the bi-partite treatment of the building’s base.

08- Image- The former Sydney Morning Herald Building.  Quite superb.

09- Image- Commonwealth Bank (1913-14), Martin Place & Pitt St. Sydney, by John Fitzpatrick.
The very model of civilised dependability. The “money-box building”.

10- Image- Former Manchester Unity Oddfellows’ Building (1921-23), Elizabeth Street, by John P Tate & Young. Sydney.
Interesting building this. The Oddfellows were a quasi- secret society, whose good deeds included life insurance policies for the poor.
Interesting use of eastern temple language, especially as it is next to the Great Synagogue.

11- Image- Former Farmer’s Store (c 1930). George & Market Streets, by Robertson & Marks. Sydney.
Shows how department stores were viewed as important prestigious social institutions (as they were, with the mail order component tying the country together).

12- Image- Gowings Bros (1912, 1929) 318 George & Market Streets, by Robertson & Marks and C H McKellar. Sydney.

13- Image- Former Shell House (1938), Carrington & Margaret Streets, by Spain & Cosh. Sydney.
This terracotta-clad Renaissance palazzo is very late, about the last example in Sydney. It has a strong Art-Deco influence, but is still strongly bound to the Renaissance massing conventions.
The Rural Bank of Martin Place (demolished) of 1939 was strongly Art Deco. Perhaps Shell saw this as too radical.

More info-

8 Chifley Square- richard rogers classic industrial.

3 Jan

8 Chifley Square will be a premium grade commercial building on a landmark Sydney CBD site. It will stand a height of 30 storeys, with an approximate net lettable area of 19,000 square metres.

As the focal point of Chifley Square, the new tower will be a striking, premium grade office building with highly articulated and expressive architecture. Its distinctive design, adaptable workspaces, green credentials, public space and site-specific features deliver an interactive and cutting-edge workplace for the future.

A five storey void at the street level of the building will offer a grand entrance and add extensive public space to the already appealing Chifley Square precinct.

Architects: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Lippmann Associates in association with Mirvac Design



HEIGHT-roof-120m, core-141m, exhaust stacks-146m
number of floors-30, 21 actual office floors.
1 basement

#high performance glazing to control sun,heat,glare in workspace.
#facade-transparent double glazed with aluminuim sun lourves.
#25m high open foyer
# mid level & rooftop cafe areas for workers and public.
#external coloured steel support beams and exposed stairwells.
#6 star energy rated
#chilled beam co-generation & black water treatment plants.
#column free -1000sqm floors with rear service core

150m high ‘pomidou centre”


“…chifley makes an unparalleled contribution to the public realm, the idea of a dynamic and social workplace and the sustainability of the planet, without doubt the “next wave” of commercial buildings for our city…”

This new commercial high-rise project was commissioned by Mirvac Projects after Lippmann Partnership (in consultation with Rogers, Stirk, Harbour and Partners) won a City of Sydney Design Excellence Competition. The building accommodates 23,000 sq metres of premium grade office space at a prime location within the Sydney CBD.

The concept achieves three main objectives

1. an extension of the existing Chifley Square ground plane as public open space 

2. provision of an office “village” environment where varying floor plates allow 3 storey voids, offereing unique workspaces and flexibility within a commercial tower; and

3. achievement of a 6-star AGBR rating with photovoltaic sunshades, external sunscreens, blackwater treatment and co-generation plant resukting in a reduced carbon footprint of 70% for a building of this size.

After a 2 year delay duruing the global financial crisis, the project is nowe on site with expected completion date of 2013.


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.