The judging panel for the Crown Sydney Hotel Resort released three architectural designs as part of a design competition for the project proposed for Barangaroo South on Sydney’s harbour front.

The designs from internationally acclaimed architects Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill, Kohn Pedersen Fox, and Wilkinson Eyre Architects are being reviewed by a judging panel consisting of representatives from Crown Resorts, Lend Lease, the Barangaroo Delivery Authority and the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure.

A formal recommendation will be provided to Crown by the panel on which design is most suitable. However, the final building design will require approval by the Barangaroo Delivery Authority and planning approval from the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure.

Crown Resorts chairman James Packer says he is extremely impressed with the high quality of the work that has been submitted.

“These designs are truly inspiring; they literally take your breath away. Sydney deserves one of the world's best hotels and these amazing architects have all delivered. With these sorts of designs, Crown Sydney will be the most iconic building constructed in this city since the Opera House. Whoever ends up winning - it’s guaranteed to be a masterpiece.

“I want this building to be instantly recognisable around the world and feature on postcards and memorabilia promoting Sydney. That’s how you attract international tourists, create jobs and put Sydney on the map.”

Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill Architecture design

Lend Lease’s Group CEO and managing director Steve McCann says the competition ensured design excellence and they are excited by the visionary designs received.

“Each has its own unique character and reveals the competing firms’ professionalism and their enthusiasm to be part of this world class project, while at the same time meeting our target of protecting and enhancing public access to the Harbour.”

Kohn Pederson Fox Associates design

The competition was announced in October 2012 with Crown and Lend Lease, which has an exclusive dealing agreement with Crown in relation to the development of the hotel, inviting interested architects to participate in the design competition.

The objective of the building is to introduce a landmark waterfront building to Sydney that is timeless and iconic in nature that will become a destination for international tourists and seekers of luxury. The hotel is expected to have approximately 350 guestrooms and suites, four restaurants, a cafe, an ultra-lounge, day spa, roof top pool and luxury retail facilities.

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating has welcomed the design finalists for the proposed hotel and casino and says the external design competition was a brave decision by Packer, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Any one of the three buildings is heading in the direction of being a significant building for Sydney.

“[The buildings] have in essence the one thing I thought they needed to have, which is a sculptural quality.”

However, there are a few critics out there, with top architects making some damning observations, reports the Business Insider.

Namely, Joe Agius from the Australian Institute of Architects says the designs “look uncomfortable in a Sydney context”.

Wilkinson Eyre Architects design

Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill Architecture proposal:

  • the building expression is based upon the elemental shapes found in the marine environment such as shells and molluscs
  • the shell form design also relates to the pre-1788 condition of the area which was used by Indigenous peoples as a source of shellfish and oysters
  • the middens or piles of discarded shells were used by colonial settlers as a source of lime for the production of concrete.

Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates proposal:

  • the concept is “Crown Sydney: life with an edge”
  • the aim is to create an identity for Sydney’s third icon alongside the Harbour Bridge and Opera House
  • the design is influenced by yacht sails, the bridge itself and the Opera House
  • the lean of the building evokes nautical themes such as a ship’s prow or a heeling yacht.

Wilkinson Eyre Architects proposal:

  • WEA’s complex architectural form is derived from a sculptural form that is reminiscent of three twisting petals
  • the sculptural form of the building takes its inspiration from nature, being composed of organic forms without literal or direct reference. It is an abstract shape that has been developed to leverage the unique aspects of the site while maintaining the requirements of Crown’s brief in an elegant form  
  • the shape of the upper and intermediate levels of the tower is designed to maximise views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.

The winner is expected to be announced in late May and information about the designs can be viewed here.