A 200-metre-high stack of shifting glass volumes conceived by Danish architecture firm 3XN has edged-out Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning firms in a competition to reshape Circular Quay, Sydney.

AMP Capital named 3XN the architect for the 49-story, 102,000 sqm 50 Bridge Street tower and master plan for the Quay Quarter Sydney (QQS) precinct, following a multi-stage international competition.

Construction on ‘Quay Quarter Tower’ is set to begin in 2018.

The new Quay Quarter Sydney precinct spans Young, Bridge and Loftus streets in Sydney’s historic centre

3XN Founding Partner and Creative Director Kim Herforth Nielsen said the project looks at the ‘high rise’ in an entirely new way, “from both the inside out and outside in”.

“Its dynamic, shifted massing maximises views for all of the building’s users while also creating expansive open spaces that encourage the possibility for interaction, knowledge sharing and vertical connectivity,” he said.

The architects explain how the tower comprises a series of shifting glass volumes stacked upon each other:

“By dividing the building into five separate volumes and placing atria throughout each volume, the spaces become smaller, more intimate social environments, encouraging building occupants to connect and interact,” their statement reads.

“Rather than face directly into the adjacent building at 33 Alfred Street, the lower levels of the tower are angled west to capture the energy and movement from the surrounding neighbourhood. As the building rises, the northern façade shifts to the east. This rotation not only enhances views over the Opera House and Harbour, but helps self-shade the northern façade from harsh afternoon sun, creating a passive sustainability feature.

“Rotating the tower also creates a collection of exterior terraces that are directly linked to the multi-level interior atria, which will contain shared amenity spaces for tenants in each block. These common amenity spaces provide stunning views both vertically and horizontally and bring daylight deep into workspaces while promoting collaboration and interaction.”

Arup has provided a full multidisciplinary engineering service for the development and will continue to provide all engineering consulting services through to completion. See more information below.

The developers point out that the tower represents the first major project designed by a Danish architect in Sydney since Jørn Utzon designed the landmark Opera House in 1973.

Louise Mason, AMP Capital Managing Director Office & Industrial, said: “AMP has been in the Circular Quay precinct for over 50 years and has a deep respect for the heritage of the area and importantly, an exciting vision for the future. This project will feature landmark architecture and leading-edge urban design that will revitalise Sydney’s northern CBD.”

The AMP Capital site, located close to the Opera House, is being revitalised is into an integrated business, residential and lifestyle precinct. More information on the development at the Quay Quarter website.

The Competition

AMP Capital held the design competition in accordance with City of Sydney Council’s Competitive Design Policy.

Architectural firms competing included Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (FJMT) from Sydney; Ingenhoven + Architectus from Germany and Sydney; Morphosis from the USA; MVRDV from The Netherlands; and SANAA from Japan.

In September, a jury panel of six representatives from City of Sydney and AMP Capital selected 3XN from Denmark as the winning architect for the Design Excellence competition.

Following design development of the winning scheme, further Stage 2 DAs will need to be submitted and approved by the City of Sydney.

“The quality of the architects shortlisted to compete for this project meant that not only was it a difficult but highly stimulating judging process but that a great outcome was inevitable. AMP Capital have shown themselves to be a rare enlightened client committed to excellent architecture and the interests of the City as a whole as well as to themselves” - John Denton, Director Denton Corker Marshall (Chair Jury Panel).

Arup to help make imagined tower of vertical villages a reality

Arup describe the design as a reimagining of the existing AMP Capital 50 Bridge Street tower as a series of stacked, juxtaposed forms – or ‘vertical villages’ – which rotate to maximise views of the surrounding area, including the iconic Sydney Harbour.

Arup has been working with AMP Capital since project inception, providing a full multidisciplinary engineering service for the 110,000 sqm precinct development. The firm has guided the project through feasibility studies, submission of the Stage 1 DA, informing the client brief and design competition.

The firm will continue to provide all engineering consulting services to AMP Capital and the architects through to completion, including the environmentally sustainable design of the development.

Robert Saidman, Principal and Sydney Building Services Leader, Arup, said:

“Circular Quay is Sydney’s gateway, but it has lacked relevance in recent years – Quay Quarter is a precinct worthy of a place alongside the world’s most famous harbour. To work with AMP Capital in such a fully integrated way and consult on the project from start to finish is a unique opportunity.”