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    Shapes of reality

    Deborah Singerman

    Its vegetation is talk of the town but the size of One Central Park in Sydney also counted as the project was named recent recipient of the Best Tall Building Worldwide award from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH).

    Created by joint venture partners Frasers Property Australia and Sekisui House Australia and designed by French architects Ateliers Jean Nouvel and Australian firm PTW Architects, the project was recognised for its innovation in sustainable design. Its cantilevered, light-reflecting heliostat has become a high-rise favourite and along with hydroponics engenders the cooling plants that grow around the periphery of the building at all levels. One Central Park points the way to an “essential naturalisation of our built environment, (and to) a new aesthetic for our cities, an aesthetic entirely appropriate to the environmental challenges of our age,” said CTBUH executive director Antony Wood.

    One Central Park. Image: Simon Wood

    “This project was about the visibility of sustainable design,” Ateliers Jean Nouvel partner Bertram Beissel said. “If we do all these sustainable things and no-one can see them, do they really exist? The choices we make for a sustainable future cannot be made in the future. They must be made today.”

    Visibility can integrate into a structure or building, while other aspects are concealed. For instance, while a giant steel poppy overhangs the new student entry courtyard at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance, its striking red in true ARM style, the education centre and galleries and visitors’ centre are in an undercroft beneath the Shrine.

    Southern Acropolis: Aerial view of Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance redevelopment, by ARM Architecture. Image: John Gollings. Source: SMH

    Frank Gehry’s much anticipated UTS (University of Technology, Sydney) building (due to open in February), has a fa├žade described as resembling clusters of “brown paper bags”. One of the two public sculptures to commemorate the legal reforms of the Whitlam era is shaped like the arms of a typewriter, its Canberra Commonwealth Place location further emphasising the relevance and visibility of law-making.

    Frank Gehry's UTS building

    Virtual visibility denotes Augmented Australia 1914-2014, with 22 unrealised projects from around Australia shown at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale and now at Sydney’s Customs House until December 15. Images, voiceovers, animations and 3D models, activated by an app, give life to these historical and contemporary, public and private buildings, making what might have been more real and imaginable.

     

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