Disused east Sydney block to be transformed into architectural beauty

Disused east Sydney block to be transformed into architectural beauty

In addition to the main building, the architects also reimagined Palmer Street as a pedestrian boulevard leading to a new public square.

The judges awarded second prize to a more “vernacular” entry by Winston Grant-Preece which they said had the most Sydney flavor to it, and praised designs by UK-based ADAM Architecture and US practice Historical Concepts.

Cities Minister Rob Stokes presented Premier Dominic Perrottet’s pick of the bunch at the launch on Tuesday night, designed by local firm Hector Abrahams Architects. He also praised a youth entry by high school students John Paul Foong and Joseph Foong.

Stokes lamented that Sydney was chosen as the set for the 1999 film The Matrix because the CBD skyline was so generic and bland. “We want places that are not vanilla, but in the direction of a vernacular,” he said.

“When we look at Sydney, we [want to] see a reflection of ourselves, not of New York, not of London, not of Paris, not of Berlin, not of Shanghai.”

The government did not request, approve or oversee the competition, and there is no suggestion that any of the designs will ever see the light of day. When the Herald asked Transport for NSW about the Woolloomooloo “ghost block” for a story in 2021, it said the land was no longer needed for operational purposes and its future use would be reviewed.

Professor of Architecture Richard Economakis said this entry from Winston Grant-Preece was the “most Sydney” of all the ideas.

Main, the founder of Street Level Australia, said the aim of the competition was to promote conversation about better ways of building places – particularly better infill redevelopment of existing areas. “Part of the hold-up and the tension is that 99 percent of the time new density is terribly ugly,” We have a political problem because nobody wants the density to be near them,” Main said.

“Imagine if we could take our cues from Paris or cities that actually planned beautiful places on an area level. If we want density to happen, we can’t keep opening the vacuum for this crappy development. We must think of beauty to solve vastness.”

A featured design submitted by UK-based ADAM Architecture.

Main said the goal was not to recreate or imitate historical styles, but to learn from the past. As for successful examples of modern urbanism, she suggests Le Plessis-Robinson in France, Brandevoort in the Netherlands and the UK’s Poundbury – a planned community endorsed and strongly led by King Charles III.

Closer to home, she said Jindee – a young seaside suburb north of Perth – had the makings of a special, successful urban creation.

A featured entry by Atlanta and New York-based architecture firm Historical Concepts, for a grand hotel.

Low-lying, low-lying Woolloomooloo, between the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross, has been ripe for reimagining for decades and has attracted the attention of many architects and urban planners.

Last year the Herald revealed a radical vision for the Domain and Woolloomooloo by Grimshaw Architects, which would transform the Domain car park into a new performing arts precinct with four concert halls and drive the urban renewal of William Street and the surrounding blocks.

Entries in the Sydney is Beautiful competition are on public display at Glebe Town Hall from 9am to 12pm on Wednesday.

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