Continuing from recent international award success, Australian firm Architectus has won the City of Sydney design excellence competition for their design of a central Sydney building.

Winners of a New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) gold medal at the NZ National Architecture Awards in May, Architectus enjoy continued recognition with their redevelopment plan for 151 Clarence Street in Sydney having won the design excellence competition.

Located on the western side of Clarence Street, between Erskine and King Streets, the project will transform the existing building into a new 17 storey, 5 Star Green Star PCA A-Grade commercial address at the gateway to the emerging western corridor of central Sydney.

The winning design features a detailed brick podium that embodies the heritage masonry warehouse character of the surrounding precinct and an elegant glass tower above.

Retail, residential and serviced apartments also form part of the plan as does a new through-site link and central plaza.

The Architectus project joins a string of projects along Clarence Street with plans from Koichi Takada Architects and St Hilliers developers already in the development stages.


Above: The Architectus project sits alongside other proposed developments for Clarence Street including 161 and the heritage listed Red Cross House. Image: Central Sydney Planning Committee

Architectus managing director, Ray Brown, commented on the brief and said a major challenge for the development was meeting the natural lighting requirements.

“The challenge of the site was to bring natural light deep into the floorplate and also at ground level to animate the internal courtyard and arcade network,” he said.

“Our design focuses on providing a diverse retail offering over the bottom two floors with large office floorplates above.”

Above: The plans consider the set backs and fa├žade compositions of neighbouring buildings to inform design. Image: Central Sydney Planning Committee

The competition jury said the Architectus plan considered the site’s locality and that the building’s public facility addressed the brief.

“The proposal was considered to provide a unique landmark building which would add vitality and quality to the mix of buildings in the CBD. The ground plane is seen to add significant public benefit through its retail offering and fine grain of laneways.”

Competing in the design excellence competition format granted Architectus an additional 10 per cent of floor space and building height on top of planning regulations. This initiative is not available to architects designing outside of the design excellence competition.

The design excellence initiative was introduced in 2000 by the City of Sydney Council and aims to trigger a competitive design process for important and large scale developments that are 55 metres in height or on sites greater than 1,500sqm in area.

The Sydney local environmental plan 2012 design excellence incentive document says that the program is a two stage approval program designed to “ensure that significant new development contributes positively to the overall architectural quality of the City.”

Under the competition design policy the competition can take one of three forms;

A developer can undertake:

(a) an ‘open’ architectural design competition; or

(b) an ‘invited’ architectural design competition; or

(c) an ‘invited’ competitive design alternatives process.

The Architectus plan has already met stringent review from a jury that consisted of half non pecuniary interested parties, and half developer nominated parties.

The firm will now progress a detailed development application in order to complete stage two of the process.