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    Make-ing a mark in Australia: UK Architects set up shop in Sydney

    Nathan Johnson

    Britain’s Make architects have touched down in Australia and are looking to first make a mark in our largest city.

    The award-winning UK-based firm have relocated five staff from it London headquarters and has three jobs on the go already as collaborative architects in Sydney.  

    The firm is the joint architect with Architectus on the recently approved $1 billion Wynyard Station redevelopment and is working on a new residential development at 71 Macquarie Street in Circular Quay which already had a Tzannes-designed building approved for development in 2014.

    The third Make project currently underway however is likely to be a contentious one, and will introduce the firm to Sydney’s notorious planning processes.

    Make are set to turn the historic sandstone Department of Lands and Department of Education buildings on Bridge Street, Sydney into a $300 million luxury hotel for developer Pontiac Land Group, plans that have been strongly opposed by a number of Sydney-based architects.

    In 2014, Gold Medal winners Richard Leplastrier and Peter Myers as well as Beverley Garlick, Swetik Korzeniewski, Philip Thalis and Paul Berkemeier all co-signed a letter appealing directly to the premier and treasurer to keep the buildings for public use.

    “Surely here is an unlikely to be repeated opportunity to make a very fine city-based school in a building that belongs to the citizens and is currently under the custodianship of the Department of Education,” the letter said.

    In 2013, the Australian Institute of Architects publicly expressed its concerns about the future of the two sites. The then-NSW chapter president Joe Agius described the buildings as “priceless.”

    “The Department of Lands building is one of the grand public buildings that helps define Sydney as a ‘sandstone’ city, while the Department of Education building is one of the city’s most outstanding examples of Edwardian architecture,” he told Architecture & Design.

    “Should the government insist on selling the buildings, the Institute strongly recommends it investigate a private sector leasing scheme that enables public access and contributes some public benefits.”

    A release from the firm says that Make’s skills, track record and learnings will translate really well in Sydney. That track record includes a whole host of award-winning buildings located around the world, including Facebook’s UK HQ in London, HSBC’s private banking headquarters in Geneva and a flagship hotel for Swire Properties in Chengdu.

    “We always look to challenge preconceptions, to deliver and exceed the client brief and to ensure that our project enhances its environment,” says founder of Make, Ken Shuttleworth.

    “We are looking forward to bringing the Make brand of architecture to Australia.”

    What Make’s brand of architecture will look like in Sydney however is still to be determined as the firm prides themselves on delivering  unique, design-led solutions for each project.

    “Make has one purpose: to design the best buildings, spaces and places in the world,” says a release from the firm.

    “Each Make project is the result of a meticulous, in-depth design process that involves listening to clients, understanding their needs and aspirations and producing bespoke, design-led solutions. This means that unusually for an architecture practice, there is no fixed house style.

    A big test for the firm will be how it responds to criticism from Australia’s leading architects and critics and how they’ll deal with the red tape surrounding development in Sydney. 

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