While not confirmed it is likely that Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano will design the last piece of the South Barangaroo puzzle, with Lend Lease announcing they are in talks with the famous Italian architect to design the site’s final three residential towers.

Piano, whose projects include Sydney’s Aurora Place and the London Shard, was also shortlisted to design the Barangaroo Crown Hotel in a previous design competition.  Piano then shocked the community by withdrawing his proposal from the race which was eventually won by UK-based Wilkinson Eyre Architects, saying his team’s result didn’t match the importance of the site.

If chosen, the draft masterplan reads that Piano will design three residential towers that will potentially rise 240 metres into the Sydney skyline and add an estimated 740 apartments to the precinct, taking the total number of permanent residencies up to 1,000.

‘NEXT STAGE RESIDENTIAL’ is the only portion of Barangaroo South that has not seen a design proposal, but talks have begun between Renzo Piano and Lend Lease about potential concepts. Image: Lend Lease.

The news will no doubt rekindle the debate about the use of public space at the Barangaroo site and whether residential towers of the proposed height and scale is appropriate for Sydney.   

One well known Australian architect who’d prefer a European-style lower residential development is Richard Leplastrier who told The Australian Financial Review that the Barangaroo high-rise towers have thus far been egotistically designed and aren’t the best providers of quality public space. 

 “It is a tower mentality and solution,” Leplastrier told the AFR.

“Those towers carry the sort of architect’s ego with it, whereas lower, more dense, up to eight-storey, solutions for towers – maybe with the occasional element that comes out of it – is a much better way for making a city.”

Formerly, renders of the site have only included transparent depictions of what the buildings may eventually look like. Pictured here is the Crown Hotel by Wilkinson Eyre Architects (left), the three International Towers by Lord Richard Rogers and Ivan Harbour from Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners – ITS right, and Anadara and Alexander by Richard Francis-Jones of FJMT and PTW architects (bottom right).

He also said that because tall towers require proportionally more floor space for services such as lifts, quality interaction and relationships for the public would be less than a lower, flat building, which could contain cafes, galleries and studios to encourage interaction.

“How many great relationships do you know that are started in lifts?” he said.

 “Not too many. The ones you do, you know you’d prefer not to talk about.”