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The eighties called and they want their buildings back….!

5 Mar

I was walking through Darling Harbour last week and was shocked to see the Sydney Exhibtion Centre drifting, masts broken, like the Marie Celeste through a sea of rubble. I had heard that their deomlition was being bandied around, but I was amazed to see that the Harbour Authority would have the gall to go ahead with it.


The Marie Celeste, mast in majestic full sail, was found wandering the sea empty of souls….

I have no problems with the demolition, personally. As a bit of a Marxist, I believe that buildings should be useful and serve the people. These buildings were the linchpin of the whole original 1988 Darling Harbour development, but they did not anticipate the populist success that DH would become. These site require buildings that are accessible and inviting, chock full of retail and entertainment possibilities (how the masses love this kind of thing) that can be entered on-grade. I hope that the new Hassell schemes allow for this.

The original Sydney Convention Centre and Sydney Exhibtion Centre were built in 1987 on the former Darling Harbour Railway Goods Yard.


Above- the site as I first knew it in 1984, when DH was an honest “working harbour” (actually the most important port in Australia for a long time…


Above- the forlorn masts of the old Cox Richardson Exhibition Centre sticking up, devoid of surrounding buildings, as they slip beneath the waves.


Above- the Phillip Cox Exhibition Centre in happier times. It was always something of a white elephant.


Above- existing, from the air.


Above- proposed, from the air. DH is fast becoming the centre of Sydney.


Above- John Andrews‘s Convention Centre. He likens, understandably from his point of view, its demolition to an act of vandalism.


Above- the proposed replacement by Hassell. Looks like more fun at least.


Above- and finally, know we know why they pulled out the perfectly functional Sydney Monorail. In the way of progress! What a grim day for the eighties!!



Recent inner-city developments- CBD Low/Mid Rise (under 10 levels)

8 Jul

01- Cheese Grater (Architects- Allen Jack+Cottier)

Spunky new educational bldg DA as part of UTS (1 -3macarthur st)
cnr Macarthur st/bay sts
International Grammar School

02 15-35 chippendale student accommodation (architects- Silvester Fuller)

Here’s a render – looks better as a model. The architects (Silvester Fuller) are based in Australia, but I guess that doesn’t mean they’re not American. The owners of the building are American, however – it’s student accommodation for Boston University.
Original design from rising star TONY OWEN. Not half as good as what was finally built.

03- Belmore Park substation
The more I think about this one the more of a wasted opportunity this really is.
The 1918 Sydney hotel which was pulled down for current carpark.

04- New HQ for Google in Pyrmont- Workplace6. 6-Star Green Star-designed. (architects- Nettleton Tribe).

05- SUSSEX HAY CENTRE – 405-411 SUSSEX STREET, HAYMARKET (architects- Crone Partners Architecture Studios)

Demolition of the existing 5-6 storey buildings and construction of an 8 storey building with 2 levels of basement parking for 23 cars and lower ground supermarket, retail and restaurant at ground and first floors and 6 levels of commercial offices above.
It’s called the Sussex Hay Centre. You aren’t going to be happy with what they replaced, and what with (well I know I’m not, over 100 year old heritage lost!).

Here’s a Flickr website dedicated to what has been lost –

Here’s what the old 2 buildings looked like –

06- Dominion. 299 Forbes st, Darlinghurst. (architects- Group GSA)
At it’s highest point (about 30m down Burton Street), it’s about 29m from street level to the top of the lift overrun. At the corner of Forbes and Burton Streets it’s about 23m (7 storeys); at the corner of Burton and Bourke Streets it’s 24m (7 storeys).

A new Dominion to rise in Darlinghurst
8 July 2010

St Hilliers and Cbus Property have launched Dominion, a 110 luxury apartment development in Darlinghurst, Sydney.

The development is located on the site of the former Caritas healthcare facility, which St Hilliers acquired from St Vincent’s Hospital in 2008 with concept plan approval for a medium density residential and commercial development.

The triangular site is bounded by the famous Darlinghurst Gaol, now the National Art School, the NSW Supreme Court and the former heritage Darlinghurst Police Station.

The building was designed by Group GSA, with interiors by SJB Architects.

Architecturally, the approach has been to create three new buildings unified on a contiguous sandstone base, which wraps around the site and is in keeping with the historic surrounds. The base houses around 1,000 sqm of retail and commercial areas.

The Bourke, Burton and Forbes residences are low-rise buildings which feature an architectural profile of steel, glass and louvres and floating roofs. Four apartments housed within two adapted heritage buildings retained on the site blend heritage features and contemporary style.

Utilising the large frontages and stepped unit façade layout, over 90 per cent of the units are cross-ventilated.

The development as a whole aims to achieves a 5 star NatHERS environmental rating.

Construction of the development is expected to commence in December 2010 and will take 18 months to complete.

07- ‘Eden’ 19-31 Goold Street, Chippendale: (Architect: Tony Owen)

On a sadder note, a new DA is in for 19-31 Goold Street, Chippendale, and those terrific swooping and swaying lines of the rear of the building have been ‘rationalised’ into something much straighter and more conventional and much less interesting. What grey cardigan’s bloody idea was that?! 8 storeys 26 apt.

08- EastExchange. The extension to the old East telephone exchange at 320 Liverpool Street, Darlinghurst.
Developed by Maygood Australia.
A 1923 stripped classical style public works building designed by E.H. Henderson.

09- Luxe Apartments in Woolloomooloo. The site – currently a hole – sits between Sir John Young Crescent and Crown Street.
A large hole in the ground on the site of the former Sydney Eye Hospital in Woolloomooloo is set to become twin seven-storey apartment blocks (has been gathering puddles and graffiti since the late 1990s).
Developer- Investment group FKP. The new $95 million blocks will be called Luxe and contain 77 apartments with an average price of $1 million.
The buildings were designed by architects Marchese Partners International and modified by Krikis Tayler Architects.

10- DA in for Student Housing, 1 Regent Street, Chippendale.
DA submitted 2007.

11- Glass box atop Louis Vuitton’s new flagship store, on the corner of King and George. (architects- Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp).
Formerly The Blacket Hotel. Developer- Kingvest Pty Ltd.

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.


Driving down George Street in 1904

27 May

This is worth looking at- brilliant footage shot from on the top of a tram going down George Street in 1904. It’s very recognizable and yet very foreign. Heaps of pedestrians, no cars.

A 1906 bird’s eye view of George St, Sydney NSW. Cameraman takes his life into his own hands in perilous trip. Whoopee! National Film and Sound Archive Collection: Title No 106667.

163 Castlereagh Street- Sydney lost some heritage today

17 May

The former Angus and Son coachbuilders building was demolished today to make way for the entry area for the new Grocon / ANZ  high-rise tower at 163 Castlereagh Street.

The building last week, now demolished.  The demolition hoardings were being erected.  The building was the showroom for ‘Angus and Son, Motor Cars Carriages and Buggies’. Angus and Son were an important carriage maker at the turn of the century- they disappeared with the introduction of the imported motor car. This Edwardian building was built at the end of their power. The five arched windows were originally above doorways. The top floor was a large naturally lit showroom.

Above- a rather sketchy image from the Angus and Son catalogue, circa 1902.

Angus and Son coachbuilders were established in the mid nineteenth century. The catalogue was produced some 57 years after their establishment at the end of the horse drawn era and at the beginning of the motorised transport. The catalogue was produced to illustrate their leading and favourite types of horse drawn vehicles.

The Angus and Son catalogue is a 40 page booklet, stapled in the centre with a cardboard cover. The cover bears the title ‘Principal Depot and Show Rooms’, a photograph of the facade of the building and the address ‘165-167 Castlereagh Street (between Park and Market Streets) Sydney’. The building on the cover features the wording ‘Angus and Son, Motor Cars Carriages and Buggies’.

The catalogue is illustrated with photographs and line drawings of the types of horsedrawn vehicles available for purchase from the company. The drawings are accompanied by notes on specific features, prices and materials.

The future elevation, showing the public entry area to the new 46story, 188m 163 Castlereagh St office tower.

Also to be demolished, the striking Brutalist Greater Union Pitt Centre (along with “corduroy concrete” facade).

Heritage items on the site

Fight to save Tilba underlines heritage neglect

29 Mar

Here is an article related to the destruction of heritage here in Sydney . A perfectly good building to be destroyed with less scrutiny than would be engendered when applying to build a new front yard fence.

Virginia Judge … fighting to save Tilba from demolition.


Tilba, the 1913 Edwardian-style Burwood Heights residence, faces demolition. Its new owner, the developer Farah Elias, wants to build a three-storey unit block.

Its fate rests with the Planning Minister, Tony Kelly, who has given Tilba a 40-day reprieve to assess its heritage merits, following public concerns expressed through the local member, Virginia Judge.

Tilba represents an early skirmish in the unfolding battle across Sydney between those who want ever more housing and those who seek to preserve what we value.

It is among hundreds of worthy houses that at the very least contribute to the character of the suburb. Many would argue that it does more, and ought to have been listed long ago by Burwood council on its local environment plan.

But Tilba, and many like it, face the prospect of virtual overnight demolition, now that private certifiers are allowed to approve demolition and development, all without notifying neighbours.

This has been allowed by the heritage and planning laws, initially sought by the then planning minister Frank Sartor in 2007, which passed through Parliament last year under Kristina Keneally’s stewardship.

The five-bedroom Liverpool Road house that sits on a 1650-square-metre block sold last November for a record $2.8 million. Most people inspecting it assumed its meticulous restoration would lead to a new family taking up residency, following in the footsteps of its first occupant, produce merchant Alfred Berwick.

Tilba sits on the ring of properties surrounding one of Sydney’s most renown streetscapes, the National Estate-listed Appian Way.

Appian Way was a model housing estate conceived by a wealthy steel industrialist, George Hoskins, who turned eight hectares of land known as Humphreys Paddock into an estate of 36 spacious, low-set bungalows surrounding a village green. Its development coincided with the garden city movement, the urban planning approach founded in 1898 by Sir Ebenezer Howard in Britain.

About 30 of the original houses still stand within the Appian Way.

While the Appian Way is somewhat protected, surrounding houses have no such surety. Indeed, the last comprehensive heritage study undertaken by Burwood Council was in 1986. Only about 250 of its 5500 houses are on its heritage list.

Many other councils have similarly neglectful heritage lists, which often involved little more than a survey done from behind a car windscreen some three decades ago. These were done shortly after the National Trust hit its strides after the Wran government’s 1977 heritage legislation.

Camden, which has the pioneer spirit deep into its veins, protects just 100 properties. Only 120 houses are protected across the Cooma-Monaro shire.

Hunters Hill ranks among the thorough councils, with almost 600 properties on its list, along with Ku-ring-gai’s 700 and Woollahra’s 800.

Jon Breen, the president of the Burwood Historical Society, is hoping for a mayoral minute from John Sidoti, and council support at tomorrow’s meeting, which might just help save Tilba