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    Twenty kilometres of carved and curved timber for Sydney’s new civic centre

    Kirsty Sier

    A new civic centre has been approved for Sydney’s Darling Harbour precinct, as part of the $3.4-billion Darling Square project.

    International architecture firm Kengo Kuma Architects (KKA) has been confirmed for the civic centre, dubbed The Darling Exchange. Their proposed design is a swirling, hurricane-like structure wrapped in 20 kilometres of curved and carved wood.

    Australian practice, Aspect Studios, will work alongside KKA to deliver an urban square that abuts the civic centre design. The urban square design will cover 2,700sqm; roughly the same area of Martin Place between Pitt and George Streets.

    The Darling Square redevelopment is being touted as the “most walkable and connected urban neighbourhood at the heart of the NSW government’s $3.4-billion transformation of Darling Harbour” by Lendlease. The new “village” will accommodate 4,200 residents, 2,500 workers and facilitate a host of tourist activities. The Square is already home to 500 students, who live in the student accommodation building recently completed by Urbanest.

    As part of the Darling Square redevelopment, the City of Sydney will also be getting a new library. The facilities will include an ‘Innovation Exchange’ that will support creative and technology start-ups; an open, ground-floor market hall; a childcare centre; and a rooftop bar and restaurant with views over Tumbalong Park, the Chinese Gardens and Cockle Bay.

    “Throughout history, civic buildings and town squares have brought the community together,” says Lendlease project director, Nick Arckless. “With its bold and innovative design, we think The Darling Exchange will do that with a fresh twenty-first century twist.”

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