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    Materials soothe tumult for new developments in The Rocks

    Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (FJMT) will take on a project in a Sydney suburb where even rumours of new developments cause rally and outcry.  

    The architects are leading the design of a new mixed-use project in The Rocks precinct which will encompass two heritage listed buildings known as the Bakers Terraces and the demolition/rebuild of an unlisted building known as Harrington Court.

    If approved, 85 Harrington Street will see two new towers, one ten-storey and mixed use, the other a smaller 6-storey residential version, injected into a 2,100sqm site with dual frontage to Harrington and Gloucester Streets.

    As part of the project, FJMT have also proposed to refurbish the Bakers Terraces which sit on the Gloucester Street side of the site, and to improve the sandstone pedestrian link between the two parallel streets.

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    The project comes at a tumultuous time in The Rocks where residents, architecture enthusiasts and some councils are up in arms about the recent decision by the NSW government to turn down a heritage listing for the Sirius apartment block down the road, effectively sealing its fate for demolition.

    Further east and along the waterfront, another recent proposal from Johnson Pilton Walker architects for the refurbishment of the historic Campbell's Stores was also subject to some backlash from community and parliament members.

    But where JPW’s scheme seems to have come undone could become a strength of the FJMT project. The majority of JPW’s scheme for the remediation of Cambell’s Stores was well received and only small glass box addition immediately to the north of Stores wasn’t so loved. The NSW Heritage Minister, the same that rejected the offer to heritage list the Sirius apartments, even penned a personal submission against the proposal suggesting it wasn’t suited to the Rocks.

    While FJMT’s scheme does have a strong glass presence on its southern flank, that part of the building faces the CBD and the rest of its material palette is deeply indebted to the surrounding built environment. Just north of the building’s glazed commercial block, the facade takes on a strong terracotta, bronze and sandstone colour scheme which then runs throughout the entire project.  

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    Above: The building’s cladding, battens, sliding perforated screens, soffits and spandrel panels are all coloured to match the sandstone architecture vernacular of the area 

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    Right:The project has been broken into two blocks. Block 1 will have a 10-storey commercial section and a residential section with a retail and lobby level, five levels of residential and two storeys of penthouse apartments. Block two will be separated by a sandstone pedestrian link and will only be residential

    The project also isn’t FJMT’s first attempt to combine contemporary and heritage.  The team’s Liberty Place project in Sydney won a category prize at the World Architecture Festival awards in 2014 and was called a ‘textbook example of creative adaptation’ at the 2014 Sustainability Awards when it took out large commercial project to the year.

    FJMT’s project at the Rocks is currently on public exhibition and the City of Sydney says they’re currently planning their submission.

    Images: FJMT

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