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    Aspire Tower has an architect but many hurdles still to come

    Nathan Johnson

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    Bates Smart has been chosen to design Sydney’s tallest residential tower in Parramatta, but will start by submitting a smaller concept to planning.

    The team edged out competition from a pool of four Australian architectural firms to win the brief for ‘Aspire Tower’, which was first designed by Grimshaw architects back in 2013 as part of a design competition and promised to become the new heart of the multibillion-dollar Parramatta Square development.  

    Grimshaw proposal was for a 366-metre tower, making it the tallest residential building in Sydney. But their vision never came to be due in part to resistance from Air Services Australia, Sydney Airport, Bankstown Airport and, most notably, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

    CASA was worried the building would ‘‘protrude’’ into landing and take-off corridors used by planes under some conditions. In response to those concerns, Bates Smart will go to planning with a Stage 1 development application for a smaller 70-storey, or 243-metre tall, tower in June, before seeking the additional 20 storeys at a later stage following consultation with CASA and the NSW Government.

    It is intended that the smaller tower will get the ball rolling on the project, which has been delayed for some time.

    THE DESIGN

    a2e81a9b3b1a389dba027b81cf224563-1.jpgThe most obvious difference between the Bates Smart concept and the old Grimshaw design is the shape of the tower’s flooplates and its façade treatment. Bates Smart have scrapped Grimshaw’s rectangular tower and gone for a curvelinear form which they say was chosen to contrast with the surrounding buildings. The original ‘shimmering silver’ façade of Aspire has also been replaced by bronze-coloured slabedges, window boxes and reveals, this time the architects said the intention was to be sympathetic to the legacy of past sandstone buildings in Parramatta.

    "What we sought to do was to design to come up with a singular form of expression that would provide an iconic image on the skyline," Bates Smart director Guy Lake said.

    “[We aimed to] create an iconic tower that is monumental, while expressing its residential function. The curvilinear geometry creates a soft organic form that is highly recognisable on the skyline, while contrasting with the other commercial buildings within Parramatta Square”.

     

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    If it reaches its height goals Aspire would include 700 apartments, a 150-room hotel, sky deck and public "experience centre".  If it doesn’t, then it will still be 23-storeys taller than the next tallest building in Parramatta, which is currently under construction at 330 Church Street, Parramatta. 

    A Stage 1 DA is expected at planning in June.

    Images: Bates Smart

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