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Central Park- Laneway plan grows from heritage-listed alley

16 Aug

Kelsey Munro Urban Affairs, August 15, 2011

THE developer of the former brewery site at Broadway has engaged a Sydney architect to turn a crumbling, heritage-listed alley near Central Station into a bustling Melbourne-style laneway precinct.

Kensington Street runs south from Broadway along the boundary of the brewery site and is lined with vacant, heritage-listed terraces and brewery administration buildings, some home to artists’ studios.

The street is book-ended with two great Art-Deco pubs- at the east the County Clare.

As it looked in the fifties, note the tram lines and clear road.

And on the western end by this robust specimen (love the stumpy concrete awning)…

Architect Tim Greer, who oversaw the reinvention of Eveleigh Carriageworks and the award-winning Paddington Reservoir Gardens, is running the project, which he said will provide a threshold zone between lower-rise, old city blocks and the towering new residential precinct.

Frasers Property’s chief executive officer, Guy Pahor, said the Melbourne laneway concept was apposite for what will be renamed Kensington Lane. ”This has a lot of parallels in terms of the scale,” he said, ”but also in what we intend to do with it, which is provide a rich diversity of uses which may include small eclectic retail outlets, cafes, possibly small book stores, possibly a boutique hotel and student accommodation.

”The restoration of the old Clare Hotel and the Fosters administration building is part of that mix.”

Mr Pahor said the developer was investing in the laneway because it believed the success of Central Park, the residential component, would depend on the quality of the public spaces delivered around it.

Brewery workers on their smoko break, some years ago.

Mr Greer said: ”[Kensington Lane] has some very significant remnant heritage buildings and also a lot of missing teeth which are ripe for new contemporary buildings.”

Frasers Property expects to put a detailed proposal for the laneway to planning authorities next year.

The building site yesterday.

The completed project, showing the “central park” open space.

Read more:


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.”

Happy New Year Sydney Style

1 Jan

Sydney greets 2011 with firework heaven
2011-01-01 02:30:00

Sydney, Jan 1 (DPA) The thousands who camped overnight on Sydney’s foreshore to bag the best places to watch the world’s biggest New Year’s Eve fireworks display declared their vigil well worth it.

‘This has got to be the best place in the world to be tonight,’ said Sydney resident Marc Wilson, one of an estimated 1.5 million who stayed up for what organizers said was the greatest firework show on earth.

Seven tonnes of pyrotechnics went up in blazes of colourful smoke on and around the Harbour Bridge.

The weather was warm and the skies clear for what firework fans said was the best show since the close of the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

More than 6,000 had queued for 24 hours to be at the water’s edge when the clock ticked to a new day and a new year.

Taiwanese student Chen Wei Ting, who had waited since Thursday, was first through the gates of the Botanic Gardens to stake his claim to a prime position beside the Opera House.

‘As a foreign student, we think the Australian New Year is very fascinating,’ Chen said.

People around the globe think so too, with a television audience of over one billion expected to tune in for the for the $5-million show.

‘We’re probably the envy of most fireworks people around the world,’ said Fortunato Foti, who is directing a display he said took eight months to prepare and which featured new tricks.

Rather than the customary curtain of golden fire streaming from the bridge, this year Foti managed a chessboard of red and white tumbling lights.

Police warned revelers of alcohol-free zones and that the drunk and disorderly would be in court on the first day of 2011.


Pics- SMH

Recent Sydney pop-art images by Simon Fieldhouse.

5 Sep

SIMON FIELDHOUSE is an Artist who lives and works in Sydney, Australia and mainly paints historic Architecture.

Images copyright of the artist.

Contact Simon Fieldhouse-

More images at-

Sydney Opera House safety risks denied

6 Jun

Matthew Westwood, The Australian June 01, 2010

STAGE machinery at the Sydney Opera House may be cranking into its 37th year of operation but the NSW government denies it is a safety risk.
An engineering report by theatre consultants Marshall Day Entertech warned of “multiple fatalities” in the event of a serious malfunction.

Sydney’s Daily Telegraph reported the Opera House would be forced to close unless repairs worth $800 million were done.

But the NSW government yesterday played down the risks and the cost of work.

Carol Mills, director-general of Communities NSW — a super-department that includes Arts NSW and the Sydney Opera House — said the Marshall Day report was part of a needs-and-costs assessment of arts organisations. It did not calculate the risk of accident but looked at potential problems.

While the stage machinery was “nearing the end of its life”, Ms Mills said, Opera House employees had “never been safer”.

Sydney Opera House management said the cost of repairs was overstated. The figure of $800m referred to a total refurbishment of the Opera Theatre: a grand scheme that would rebuild the theatre according to architect Joern Utzon’s design.

However, the stage machinery upgrade could be done separately, at a cost of about $50m.

Opera House chief executive Richard Evans said there was no threat of closure to any of the famous venue’s theatres.

“Sydney Opera House has a $30m annual plant and equipment maintenance program, widely acknowledged as one of the best in the world,” Mr Evans said.

Upgrades to the Opera Theatre have been discussed for years, and malfunctions have occurred. A performance of Handel’s opera Rinaldo in 2005 was interrupted by technical problems.

“Some time in the next five years, we will have to close for a period for repairs,” said Opera Australia chief executive Adrian Collette.



$130m to save Sydney Opera House from closure
By Andrew Clennell From: The Daily Telegraph June 02, 2010

An engineering report showed there were risks of “multiple fatalities” because of ageing stage machinery in the Opera House.

•NSW Government to stump up $130m
•Money is enough to “fix the problem”
•Opera House is lobbying for $800m

COMING soon to Sydney Opera House, the 13 million tenners – a $130 million rescue package.
After 10 years of lobbying, the NSW Government will announce the funding in next week’s state budget.

Treasurer Eric Roozendaal will provide the money for the Opera House in what senior government sources said was enough to “fix the problem” which has threatened the Opera House with closure.

The rescue package comes after revelations this week that an internal engineering report that showed there were risks of “multiple fatalities” because of ageing stage machinery.

Senior government sources have confirmed that more than $130 million will be allocated in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 financial years.

It will be far less than the $800 million the Opera House is asking from the state and federal governments over seven years for a renewal project to fix the premises but will pay for the cost of replacing stage machinery and enable it to remain open.

The Opera House report from engineering firm Marshall Day Entertech warned: “There is a real risk to persons on stage or being carried on the flying system from a malfunction or fault with this installation and a similar, although lesser, potential risk when people are carried on the transport elevator.”

The report warned there was a risk of “multiple fatalities” and said the theatre’s flying system was “non-compliant with current international codes and practice”.

The funding comes at a time when Treasurer Eric Roozendaal is being called a “scrooge” for not spending enough on other new projects in the upcoming budget.

A Government source said “stamp duty receipts were through the roof” but Mr Roozendaal was reluctant to open up money to new projects.

Sources said cuts were expected instead in the departments of education and environment and climate change to meet surplus targets in future years.

The Sydney Opera House is likely to warmly welcome the Government’s rescue package as it has been lobbying state and federal governments since 2000.


Biennale Arts Exhibition opens in Sydney and it’s the best ever!

22 May

StreetCorner Staff 13/05/2010

If you have never been to a Biennale or have never heard of it before, this year is the time to take a look and to marvel at a truly globally recognised festival.

So what is the Biennale? Well its Australia’s largest contemporary visual arts event started in 1973. The exhibition is held only every two years in leading art venues and public sites, and is renowned for showcasing the freshest and most innovative contemporary art from Australia and around the world.

It’s always contentious and always evokes plenty of views, which are what Arts about. Love it, hate it, don’t get it… who cares just get along and make your own mind up.

Last night was the opening night and a 1000 people were invited to Cockatoo Island by ferry [which was a major challenge] to a gala party.

When you walk onto the Island its amazing to be on a disused industrial space for starters and then you walk into the main hanger and above you is 9 cars in motion and lit up like fireworks.

It was memorising and beautiful, and like most people I was spell bound gazing up all night.

The Biennale theme this year is THE BEAUTY OF DISTANCE: Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age, the exhibition presents more than 440 works by 166 artists and collaborators from 36 countries, making it the largest exhibition ever staged by the Biennale of Sydney in its 37-year history.

Located in the middle of Sydney Harbour, Cockatoo Island has by turns been a convict prison and ship dockyard. It is a major venue for the 17th Biennale of Sydney, featuring 120 artworks by 55 artists – many creating new works with the unique space in mind.

The Museum of Contemporary Art continues its relationship with the Biennale of Sydney as a major venue partner and in 2010 has given over its galleries to the exhibition. There are 286 works by 93 artists presented over four floors at the MCA.

There is also works at the Royal Botanic Gardens, The Art Gallery of NSW, Artspace, Pier 2-3 and The Sydney Opera House.

So get along ITS FREE and it’s on for 3 months.



Facelift imminent for Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art- the Mordant Wing

4 May

Editor- a bit of a shocker- Mondrian box 10 years after it was fashionable elsewhere. However, it’s great that the MCA will finally get some decent space. I hope that includes a re-organisation of the dismal circulation spaces within the current MCA.

Facelift imminent for Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art- the Mordant Wing
Centralmag 04 May 10

The redevelopment of the Museum of Contemporary Art will begin in June this year.

The announcement was made by The Premier of NSW Kristina Keneally, the Federal Minister for Infrastructure, the Hon Anthony Albanese MP, Federal Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts, The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP, and MCA Director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor at the Museum this morning.

The redevelopment, that is expected to be completed in early 2012, will deliver a world class art and education institution and will strengthen the MCA’s position as a locally loved and internationally respected Museum.

MCA – 2009 Building Fly Through from MCA Sydney Australia on Vimeo.

The extension to the north of the existing MCA building will be appropriately named the Mordant Wing in recognition of the philanthropic support of the Mordant family.

The Mordant Wing will provide a Centre for Creative Learning of national significance, housing workshop spaces for schools and after-school youth programs.

There will be new facilities for the Museum’s renowned Bella program for young people with special needs, a digital classroom, multi-media room, library and resource room and a lecture theatre/new media events space.

In addition, the extension will house additional Gallery space.

The development will also provide revamped and extended gallery spaces and a new fully accessible entrance.

It will also expand commercial spaces to provide more ongoing revenue and create a sustainable business model, which will assist the MCA in continuing to offer free entry



Art of giving: $15m single donation boosts MCA plan

A “breathtaking” $15 million donation from a single Sydney family will partially fund a $53 million redevelopment of the Museum of Contemporary Art at Circular Quay.

The unprecedented commitment will come from Simon Mordant, MCA Foundation head and joint chief executive of investment bank Greenhill Caliburn Partners, and Mordant’s wife, Catriona.

Mordant recently pocketed $65 million through the sale of Caliburn to US firm Greenhil & Co, the Australian Financial Review reported last month.

The Mordants’ gift will be met by a joint $26 million commitment from the federal and NSW governments, as well as a $1 million donation from the City of Sydney and $7.45 million from other private donors, according to a statement on the MCA’s website.

The new wing, to be named the Mordant Wing, will extend the size of the MCA by roughly two thirds.

Museum director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor said it would house a new National Centre for Creative Learning, more gallery space and extra commercial space to generate revenue.

“The importance of this contribution to our community, made possible by the enthusiasm and commitment of this unique funding partnership, is truly breathtaking,” Ms Macgregor said.

The construction project, designed by Sam Marshall in partnership with the NSW Government Architect, will start in June and is expected to be completed in early 2012.



MCA unveils $50m makeover plan
Sean Rubinsztein-Dunlop, Wed Dec 10, 2008, ABC

Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) is planning a $50 million overhaul that would double its size with a modern new wing opposite the Opera House.

The wing, to be built on top of a car park at Circular Quay, will look like a pile of white, brown, grey and tinted glass boxes connected to the existing art deco building.

But the MCA still needs $22 million for the plan and has been lobbying the Federal Government to plug the shortfall.

The new building, designed by award-winning Sydney architect Sam Marshall, will contain a new arcade-like entrance linking Circular Quay with George Street at The Rocks.

It will also house a National Centre for Creative Learning and two new galleries containing more of the MCA’s permanent collection.

Mr Marshall says he plucked the colours of the blocks from the MCA’s surrounds and from local Indigenous culture.

MCA director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor says local residents and businesses have supported the project, but she expects it to spark debate.

“I think we should debate or discuss architecture of all kinds,” she said. “We really look forward to the debate and it will be interesting, as we move forward, to get people’s reactions.”

Ms Macgregor also wants to renovate the MCA’s current home, which was built for the Maritime Service Board. She says many people do not realise it houses contemporary art.

“Many times, we’ve had visitors walk right past, not realising the amazing experiences they’re missing out on inside,” she said.

“The building is hardly welcoming. The access is totally inadequate for people using wheelchairs, never mind families with children in strollers.

“The circulation is confusing. Is the main entrance the Quay side or George Street? Can you find the George Street entrance among the retail?

“How do you find the lifts? Do you go up or down to get to the galleries? The mezzanine can only be reached by the goods lift or the stairs.”

The museum is also planning to redevelop the rooftop overlooking the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, with a new cafe and and a sculpture terrace displaying annually commissioned works.

Cash plea

The New South Wales Government has injected $10 million into the plan, while the City of Sydney Council has pledged $1 million and the private sector has donated $17 million.

Ms Macgregor says federal Arts Minister Peter Garrett has been receptive in discussions about funding.

She says the financial crisis should not stop the Federal Government and philanthropists from contributing money.

“Who knows, with the downturn?” she said.

“[It’s] a development that can not only generate jobs during its construction but is clearly going to drive traffic to The Rocks, hopefully get people spending money and of course, it will make waves internationally too.

“So we would like to make a very strong economic argument for support for this development.”

Ms Macgregor hopes the project will re-invigorate the museum and surrounding area at The Rocks.

“At the moment, in the existing building, we’re in a bit of a logjam, where income is static and costs are rising.

“That’s going to squeeze us to the point where it’s going to be very difficult to continue the ambition of our current exhibition programs.

“So we need to do something that generates more excitement, attracts more people, attracts more donors, attracts more sponsors and generates income.”

A spokesman for Mr Garrett says the Government is considering the plea for cash as part of its Budget process.

The museum hopes to complete the redevelopment by the March 2011 state election, but it says work will not begin until it has received $50 million.


Link- MCA page-