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    2 massive Darling Harbour developments hit planning same day

    Nathan Johnson

    Two of the most significant development proposals in the history of Sydney’s Darling Harbour have hit planning simultaneously, and both have come from Australian architecture firm, Francis Jones Morehen Thorp (FJMT).

    Fresh from winning the tender for the Star Sydney casino hotel tower at Pyrmont, and while participating in another tender process for a skyscraper at Circular Quay, FJMT has still managed to churn out two State Significant Development applications before Christmas, one for the redevelopment of the Harbouside Shopping Centre (HSC) at Darling Harbour, and another for a total overhaul of Cockle Bay Wharf (CBW) immediately across the bay.

    Both are mixed-use developments and incorporate a mid-rise podium and tower element, but will differ in their secondary floorspace provisions. A summary of each is below.

    COCKLE BAY WHARF

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    A new commercial tower is located on the north end of the site and is positioned to provide a gateway building at the entrance to the CBD from the west.

    FJMT have proposed a complete overhaul of the CBW precinct which sits on the eastern side of the bay and accommodates the 1998-built Cockle Bay Wharf Centre, the Western Distributor overhead freeway and the Crescent Garden to the east.

    The two major aspects of FJMT’s proposal are the provision of a new landscaped park over the existing freeway network that currently divides the Cockle Bay Wharf Centre from the Western edge of the CBD, and a new harbourside podium and tower to replace the existing building.

    The park will connect the city directly to the harbourside from Market Street and the neighbouring Crescent Garden, and will run over the building’s podium and down into the shopping centre and harbour below.

    It will provide trees, parks, gardens and linked open spaces and areas for seating, leisure, recreation, retreat and events and will link with an upgraded waterfront and revitalised boardwalk which will be widened and fitted with permeable seating and landscaping.

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    The building form has been chosen to create open space, and maximise separation from adjacent buildings and visual and pedestrian permeability

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    The 235-metre office tower, which is likely to receive the most attention considering its proximity to the water’s edge, has been located to the north of the site near Market Street and is positioned to provide a gateway building at the entrance to the CBD from the west.

    It will provide 85,000sqm of contemporary commercial office space and will have rounded edges to increase view sharing and soften wind down washing.

    Multiplex will develop the project.

    HARBOURSIDE SHOPPING CENTRE

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    The HSC development will replace the existing Harbourside shopping centre and associated infrastructure with a new development comprising a 165 metre residential skyscraper, footed by a retail and hospitality podium below.

    Like the CBW development, a key focus from FJMT is the reactivation of the area which, considering its age and scale, is at risk of losing its relevance and attraction amidst the crop of large-scale development currently underway or completed in Darling Harbour and the nearby Darling Square and Barangaroo.

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    New pedestrian connections to the Pyrmont Bridge

    The podium is pedestrian orientated and includes a major east-west link through the site, connections to Pyrmont Bridge, and a central external staircase which will connect all levels of the podium to the harbourside. 

    The podium will mirror the curve of the harbour foreshore and includes various setbacks and separate pavilions.

    Mirvac will develop the project.

    A GROWING INFLUENCE

    With these two developments, the Star City Casino Tower, the neighbouring ICC Tower, and a host of other SSD projects popping up or in planning for around the Sydney CBD, FJMT is fast becoming one of the most influential architecture firms to design in Sydney.

    Other projects in the works include a 92 metre golden tower to be located on the corner of Elizabeth, King and Phillip Streets, the redevelopment of the brutalist podium building at University of Technology Sydney, a two-tower mixed-use project in The Rocks precinct, a curvaceous mid-rise residential building at Central Park, and a three-tower mixed use development at the new Darling Exchange precinct.

    The firm is also a part of a consortia of design teams contributing to the massive development at Australian Technology Park project in Sydney.

    The Darling Harbour precinct is undergoing significant redevelopment as part of the SICEEP, Darling Square, and IMAX renewal projects.

    Images: FJMT/NSW Planning

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