In a city known for high levels of foot traffic, George Street is one of Sydney’s busiest. It is also an area known for its heritage patina and density of art deco buildings.
580 George Street is one such building; a commercial tower that contains 33 storeys of A-grade office space as well as retail services, a medical centre, a supermarket, and childcare facilities. Designed by the architect Kevin James Rice, the tower façade is conspicuously under the influence of 1930s art deco style.
Although the building itself is still fully serviceable, an upgrade to the lobby was recently required. fjmt was the practice chosen to undertake this upgrade, and office workers aren’t the only ones who benefit from their reinterpretation of the decades-old building.
A blurring of boundaries between street and lobby is the defining characteristic of the fjmt-designed facelift. In fact, the crowning achievement of the design is not to be found on the interior of the building. It is the sculptural, diamond-panelled awning that hovers above street-level and frames the lower floors of 580 George.
“With this project we have sought to create a transformative space; a space of transition between the city street and interior workplace that – through form, light, and material – can uplift and inspire,” says fjmt.
“[The street awning] is an organic [piece of] architecture, assembled from a series of folded aluminium diamonds that wrap the existing building and the street into a new interlocking space.
“The distinctions between sculptural artwork and architectural elements of colonnade, awning and façade are blurred to create a new dynamic identity.”
The awning is made from rigid yet flexible ALUCOBOND brushed aluminium material, formed into diamond-shaped panels that create an interplay of shadow and light. According to fjmt, a “rule-based [and] systematic approach” was used to achieve the complex, panelised surface. Each diamond panel is unique in its profile and dimensions, and the final composition is suspended from the existing building in such a way “that it appears weightless”.