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An application to develop a $110 million medium-density residential project at Zetland has landed on the desk of the City of Sydney Council (CoS) and promises to be a major stepping stone in the area’s path towards urban renewal.

904 Bourke Street comprises around 15,000sqm of commercial land, approximately 450 metres from the Green Square Railway Station and 220 metres to the Green Square Town Centre. Typical to the area of Zetland, the site is flanked by a mixture of single-storey dwellings, semi-detached cottages and terrace houses as well as remnant light-industrial buildings.

The proposal to redevelop the site into a 343-dwelling residential precinct has been lodged by BVN Architects and is aligned with the aspirations of CoS and the State government for the neighbourhood. It was chosen as a result of a Competitive Design Alternatives Process which also saw participation from DKO Architecture, Sissons Architects, Collins and Turner and Group GSA.



BVN have proposed a ‘family’ of buildings rather than a monolithic development in a bid to balance the area’s low-scale conservation history with the new high-density apartment developments. They chose to scatter five building components of distinct height and style around landscaped areas and pedestrian links that run throughout the site. The scale, massing and material palettes of the different components mostly respond to their closest neighbour, for example the smaller-scale townhouses to the south west of the development will feature recycled brick, timber screens and bay-windows to integrate with the adjacent heritage conservation area across the road (see below).

Recycled brick, timber screens and bay-windows to the townhouses are crisply detailed and aid to stitch the development into the adjacent Zetland Estate.
Glass and aluminum fins are used extensively at the west corner, literally reflecting the Public Park.

The majority of the massing will be at the centre of the site where a 13 storey building, referred to as the ‘Eastern Building’ (above centre-left) and an eight-storey 'Western Building’ (above centre-right) will be situated. Smaller townhouses will flank the south west corner while the Western Building will have a reduced height on its north western boundary (above right) where a new public park has been proposed.

A Key to the development is the ‘Green Link’ pedestrian path which will run north-south through the site and separates the built forms into a square-shaped west block and a triangular shaped east block. While BVN notes that this irregular geometry created potential overlooking challenges, this was mitigated by locating lobbies, cores and indentations at internal corners, which in turn ‘split’ the buildings into smaller blocks, giving the impression of multiple buildings rather than two large blocks.

Warmer materials such as bronze and timber are used for the central buildings, and along the green link, emphasizing the human scale and pedestrian nature of these facades.

Similarly, the varied façade materials and their detailing endeavours to break up the mass of the buildings and BVN note that large, flat planes were avoided through simple articulation and detailing of corners, window reveals and screens throughout the project.

Oculus landscape architects have contributed the landscape design which is employed at all levels of the building to provide amenity, soften building edges, and improve outlook. Ground level courtyards, mid-level landscaped rooftops, landscaped planter beds and upper level gardens have all been integrated into the development.

Images: BVN