Darling Quarter integrates urban design, architecture and landscape architecture to create a public place within the city. The new development includes an innovative mix of commercial and retail functions, public domain improvements and sustainable architecture to enliven the precinct.
Following its transformation from disused docklands, Darling Harbour rapidly became one of Sydney's key entertainment and most popular tourist precincts. However, the south-eastern part - the Darling Quarter precinct - remained underutilised.
Through considered integration with the city, the project emphasises the area's viability, not only for tourist and leisure purposes, but also as a key part of an expanded CBD, offering a diverse range of experiences.
Darling Quarter is where the western edge of the city and the park meet and is celebrated in a series of defined public spaces, including a pedestrian boulevard, parklands, gateway, children's playground, and activated edges lined with cafes and restaurants. It is a place for everyone, for city workers at lunchtime and in the evenings, families, children, the young and old, visitors and locals.
Designed to be a very different type of office building for a special location, it is architecture of human scale, natural materials, with character appropriate to the public parkland location. The long gently curving facade defines and enhances the public realm with a warmth and transparency unusual in a commercial building.
The mullions are made of natural timber and irregularly spaced like rows of trees in a forest. Between these deep, profiled posts are adjustable timber louvres that control heat and glare automatically adjusted in relation to the position of the sun. Importantly this use of natural timber in layers behind transparent glazing also creates a soft backdrop to the tree canopies of the parkland.
The curves of Tumbalong Park and a ribbon-like connection with the waterfront of Darling Harbour have determined the primary geometry of the architectural form. Split at its centre, the new buildings frame and define a new pedestrian street, the Civic Connector, which links Darling Harbour South with Town Hall and the centre of the city.
The different scales of the east and west wings of the project respond to and reflect the varying scale of the park and city, united and resolved through the curved roof that draws natural light to the interior. These long forms of timber and glass, capped by the gentle curves and the scalloped apertures of the roof, create a background to the parkland and a foreground to the rising city beyond, uniting the two in a new public place.
Above the restaurants, cafes, bars and promenade are the work environments of the building, centred around day-lit atriums. Lobbies on Harbour Street and escalators bring visitors and workers to the ground floor of these open spaces. The asymmetry of the workplace floors and atriums, edged with stairs, bridges, breakout areas and glazed lifts creates a stimulating and collaborative campus environment.
An important aspect of the project's innovation and sustainability in design is not simply in the point score that reaches the highest levels of sustainable accreditation, but the focus on occupant well-being and the creation of an enabling, supportive, human and ultimately inspiring place to work, generate and exchange ideas.
Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design, International Architecture Award 2012
World Architecture Festival, Office Category Winner 2012
NSW Urban Taskforce, Development Excellence Award, Best Commercial Development 2012
Australian Property Institute (NSW), DEXUS Property Group Environmental Award 2011
BPN Sustainability Awards, Large Commercial Winner 2012
Banksia Environmental Awards, Built Environment Award 2012
Urban Development Institute of Australia, Retail/Commercial Development Award 2012
Asia Pacific International Property Awards, Office Design Architecture, Highly Commended 2012
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STRUCTURAL STEELWORK EXPOSED
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BRIGGS VENEERS PTY LTD
CAPRAL ALUMINIUM LTD
VIRIDIAN NEW WORLD GLASS