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    France's Manuelle Gautrand among four architecture teams shortlisted to design ‘centrepiece’ of Parramatta Square

    Nathan Johnson

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    Four architecture teams have been shortlisted by Parramatta City Council to design the centrepiece of the $2 billion Parramatta Square urban renewal project.

    A consortium of French firm Manuelle Gautrand Architecture (MGA), Designinc and Lacoste and Stevenson will compete against the internationally-recognised local architectural firms of Johnson Pilton Walker (JPW), Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (FJMT), as well as a partnership between SJB and Lahznimmo Architects.

    They have been briefed to design a new community and civic space for the public domain which will include Council Chambers and a ‘library of the future’ that will function as a community hub, customer service centre, community rooms and space for civic functions.

    Key points of the brief that the architecture firms will need to consider in their designs include:

    • The building must be the hero of Parramatta Square – it has to stand out in a worldclass public space.
    • The building must be an obvious seat of government. The design must be iconic so when people see an image of the civic headquarters, they automatically associate it with Parramatta.
    • The building must be permeable and allow for easy access from the public domain. It will be a modern and accessible building for the people and something the whole community of Parramatta will be proud of.
    • It must stand the test of time and be unique to Parramatta.

    The four finalists were chosen from an international field of 16 leading architects and all have experience in the fields of institutional and public architecture.  In 2015, FJMT and SJB were both awarded for educational projects; FJMT for their Bankstown Library and Knowledge Centre; SJB for their ongoing work at the Salvation Army Training College in Victoria. In 2014, Lahznimmo Architects were also celebrated for their state-of-the-art Helensvale Branch Library and Community Cultural Youth Centre on the Gold Coast while JPW’s public architecture track record, including projects for the Australian Museum, Sydney Opera House and AGNSW, speaks for itself.

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    The Bankstown Library and Knowledge Centre by FJMT. Photography by Christian Mushenko

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    Helensvale Branch Library and Community Cultural Youth Centre by Lahznimmo Architects. Photography by John Mills

    The proposal from the consortium of MGA, Designinc and Lacoste + Stevenson will also be interesting when you consider the combined portfolio and design competition experience of the team. Completed projects from MGA include the boxy Cite Des Affaires building in Saint-Etienne, France and the marble-patterned façade of the Origami building in Paris, while Designinc’s culture, public and education portfolio nears 100 projects in total.

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    Cite Des Affaires (top) and Origami (above) by Manuelle Gautrand Architecture. Photography by Philippe Ruault and Vincent Fulton

    We can expect a bit of flair from Lacoste and Stevenson who have submitted some of the most intriguing proposals for design competitions in recent memory.  They include submissions for the Guggenheim Helsinki, Barangaroo R7: Mixed Use Building and the Busan Opera House design competitions(see below).

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    The four teams will have until 7 March 2016 to submit a proposal, with a jury made up of the NSW Government Architect, Parramatta City Architect, representatives from Council and an independent architect from the City of Sydney meeting on 15 March 2016 to choose the winning design.

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