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    Parramatta Square development saga nearing end, final building design revealed

    Nathan Johnson

    While we’ll be careful from now on to use the word “final” and Parramatta Square in the same sentence, the latest news from the Parramatta Council is that they’ve settled on a design for the last building for their landmark mixed use redevelopment precinct.

    Number 3 Parramatta Square will be a 16-storey, 35,000sqm office tower designed by Johnson Pilton Walker Architects (JPW) and has been billed as the “final piece of the puzzle” for the three hectare Parramatta Square development which has been in the works for a decade.

    While the $320 million project will undergo a detailed analysis before a development application is lodged, the initial design depicts a 16-storey commercial building of irregularly-stacked glazed boxes, which will provide A-Grade commercial office space, retail and childcare facilities to the precinct.

    The Council suggests that the floorplate sizes, which will be in excess of 2700sqm, and its design quality will rival, “if not exceed”, those of the typical Sydney CBD, North Sydney and Macquarie Park office areas and that they’ll be going after blue chip companies when it goes to the market.

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    NOW TO CONVINCE THE CYNICS

    3 Parramatta Square is one part of the five-part mixed use redevelopment precinct known as Parramatta Square, a three-hectare site next to Parramatta railway station that currently houses a Sydney Water building, a church and Parramatta Town Hall, among other buildings. Parramatta Square is actually the rebirth of ‘Civic Place’, a retail, commercial and residential proposal for the same portion of land that was signed over to developer Grocon back in 2006, only to be abandoned six years later due to the strain of the global financial crisis.

    Years later, Civic Place was reborn as Parramatta Square and was divided into five separate parcels to be delivered in stages and which have since been subject to many design competitions. 

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    Parramatta Square has been divided into five parcels.

    3 Parramatta Square is the final building to be designed and joins 1 Parramatta Square, a commercial project for the University of Western Sydney designed by Architectus, 4-6 Parramatta Square, dual commercial towers also designed by JPW, 5 Parramatta Square, the precinct’s civic and community building designed by French firm Manuelle Gautrand Architecture and Australian firms Designinc and Lacoste + Stevenson, and finally, 8 Parramatta Square, a massive residential tower designed by Bates Smart.

    Of the projects only 1 Parramatta Square is near completion, expecting to be open by the end of the year, and is also the only one to have made significant progress. Next in line will be JPW’s other project, 4-6 Parramatta Square, which was the winner of an international design competition back in 2013, but was only recently submitted as a DA to the Parramatta Council.

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    Top: 1 Parramatta Square by Architectus is nearing completition. Image: Architectus 
    Above: The latest render of JPW’s dual commercial towers at 4-6 Parramatta Square. Image: Parra Council


    5 Parramatta Square and 8 Parramatta Square are the two most confusing portions of the development with both changing designs and architects more than once and both being stalled significantly.

    A DA for 5 Parramatta Square designed by Francis Jones Morehen Thorp was lodged with the Joint Regional Planning Panel back in 2013, only to be axed and put back to tender and to a new international design competition.  Manuelle Gautrand Architecture (MGA), Designinc and Lacoste and Stevenson recently won that competition and are busy preparing the DA for the project that was first tipped to be completed by late 2015.

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    Then and now: FJMT’s original proposal for 5 Parramatta Square (top) and the new version by Manuelle Gautrand Architecture (MGA), Designinc and Lacoste and Stevenson. Images: FJMT and Parramatta Council


    The story of 8 Parramatta Square is one of the great development sagas for NSW in the past five years, overshadowed perhaps only by the highly controversial Crown Resorts tower for Barangaroo. 8 Parramatta was originally called ‘Aspire Tower’ and was first designed by Grimshaw architects back in 2013 as part of a design competition, promising in the process 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).

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    Then and now: Grimshaw’s original concept for Aspire Tower and Bates Smart’s new version. Images: Grimshaw and Batesmart.

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

    More on Bates Smart’s new concept here:

     

     

     

     

     

    3 PARRAMATTA SQUARE DESIGNED FROM INSIDE OUT

    Graeme Dix from JPW said the building had been designed from the inside out in order to encourage public interaction and contribute to the diversity and energy of Parramatta Square.

    “Architecture and the built environment can create extraordinary spaces, but to become places they need people – our approach has been to put people first,” Mr Dix said.

    “The way in which the building works - how it responds to daylight, draws in air, and connects people across different levels and spaces, is integral to creating a place where people feel comfortable, focused and inspired.”

    DEVELOPER TO THE RESCUE

    Walker Corporation was announced as the preferred developer for 3 Parramatta Square and will also develop JPW’s commercial towers (4 and 6 Parramatta Square) as well as the 8 Parramatta Square (formerly Aspire Tower).

    Their deal with the Parramatta Council means that the Council will retain a 50 per cent ownership of 3 Parramatta Square. 

     

     

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