Eleonora is an architecture graduate. She recently completed a Master of Science Architecture and Construction at the Polytechnic University of Turin (Italy) with the honours thesis “Earthquake Reconstruction in Chile: Bucalemu Village”. Her thesis was developed while she was at the Finis Terrae University in Santiago of Chile where she spent three months studying and participating in seminars about sustainable architecture. She studied for one year abroad in the San Pablo CEU University in Madrid and she gained some practical experience working on a few projects with Misc Arquitectos. She currently serves as the Sydney Correspondent for World Architecture News. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Linked In: Eleonora Usseglio Prinsi
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In the last few years there has been an increasing interest to develop a good environment in the work place, where employees can not only work effectively, but can enjoy the time that they spend there; the most famous example are Google’s offices around the world. This week, in an effort to know more about their practice, I had the pleasure to visit some of the work places designed by BVN in the CBD.
BVN, composed by Bligh, Voller and Nield, is a famous Australian firm largely involved in a lot of urban, architectural and interior projects around the Country with four offices in Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane and Sydney. Our tour started from the BVN office located on the 11th floor of the Hilton Hotel Complex on 255 Pitt Street.
The office is a renovation of a 70′s commercial office. The first impression when you enter is that of an elegant contrast between the wall’s entrance covered with a light panel timber and the wall that guides you inside of the studio where there are images of the projects framed in a black layout. Suddenly on your right you can see a part of the big windows at the end of the corridor that frame the cupola of the Victoria’s Building.
The big open space is characterised by concrete floors that were maintained from the original project in contrast with the silver covering of the wiring system of the ceiling. The visual organisation of the open space office, where the people can see each other from every corner of the room, is only interrupted by thin steel columns that support the electric cable for every desk.
Along the side of the Pitt St. facades is a veranda. That space represents a relaxed area, but is also a meeting point to discuss projects, characterised by big windows, a light timber floor and a plastic panel wall where there are sketches, pictures and drawings attached. The office is such a smart design, because it creates a flexible space that includes sliding doors and walls that create closed spaces for private meeting on the corners of the room.
The second stop is the Challenger Offices just six floors down in the same building. The three-floor office was completed in 2007. The main focus of the project is a central atrium space that houses an inner staircase that connects the three levels physically and visually and creates meeting places around it. The offices around the stairs are organised as open space, with coloured boxes that hold private meeting rooms.
The visual connection between all of the floors and the big windows of the facades create a bright and comfortable space, enriched by an elegant choice of furniture. BVN won the 2010 RAIA NSW Interior Architecture Awards for this project. Just around the corner, on 420 George Street, we can find the Aecom Sydney Workplace.
The project was completed last year and it is the last of a long series of collaborations between Aecom and BVN. The 11,500 sq m project is developed into 9 floors, and it is thought to hold 850 people who were previously located in five different offices.
The project was developed after the design of the building and structure was already realised. For that reason, the creation of the big hall and the stairs that connect all of the floors is the result of a strong collaboration between BVN and the engineering team. The space is organised into three areas: services and meeting rooms, open space offices and a veranda. The veranda is a relaxed space located just in front of the big window facades that frame a huge view of the Sydney CBD. In that area, the wiring system is uncovered to represent one of the activities of the company.
The two stairs represent a good example of interaction between designer and engineer. The central one is irregularly shaped and the second one located on the side of the facade is supported by a big steel beam that also works as a handrail.
One of the most curious details of the office is the garden on the terrace that in some way represents the contribution of the workers in the development of the office: plants and flower brought from many countries and mixed together in the gorgeous CBD’s view.
On Tuesday, 7th February, the architectural program The Architects started again after a summer break on 3RRR Independent Radio in Melbourne. The Architects, which first started airing in 2004, is a weekly program hosted by the architects Simon Knott, Stuart Harrison and Christine Phillips and the international correspondent Rory Hide.
This non-profit initiative has only the purpose to be the vehicle of promotion for architecture projects, urban design and events. It is possible to follow the show on its FM broadcast and also via the web every Tuesday from 7 to 8 pm (GMT+10).
Every week the program talks about local and international architecture with guests who are invited to discuss or show their work, broken up by a music playlist created by the team. The show is set up as an informal conversation with its guests. It aims to not only bring in an expert audience but to appeal to anyone who may be interested in or curious about the challenges of the city. What makes the broadcast so interesting is that its hosts come from different backgrounds and practices and therefore have different viewpoints to contribute to the discussion.
Christine Phillips is the Director of Open Haus Studio; Stuart Harrison is the Director of Harrison and White, and Simon Knott is the Director of BKK Architects. All of these practices are involved in the construction of their projects as well as the research and media communication. The team was selected to participate in the Australian Pavilion in the Biennale di Venezia 2012.
Simon Knott participated in the last Biennale for the Australian Exposition, entitled Now + When – Australian Urbanism, which envisioned the future cities in 2050 and also in the 2008 Biennale where they were invited to create a model to reinterpret Buckminster Fullers’ geodesic dome.
In a time where we are surrounded by a lot of architecture’s images from all over the world, thanks to 3D modelling and photos readily available on the internet, it is interesting to see how radio is still working as a good medium to talk about architecture at a high level which is also understandable to everyone.
This week we meet with the architecture firm, Denton Corker Marshall, to talk about the project that won the international competition for the Broadway Building, the IT and Engineering Faculty project on the UTS Campus.
Although their practice is in Melbourne, where they opened the first office in 1974, Denton Corker Marshall are not new to big impact projects in Sydney, such as their design for the Site of the First Government House in the CBD. The firm also has two other offices in London and Jakarta.
To talk with me about the UTS project are directors Adrian FitzGerald and Ian White.
What are three words that can describe the concept of your project?
Singular, sculptural and connections.
What do you think was the key that allowed your project to be the winner in the design competition?
The concept captured the imagination of the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ross Milbourne – and the university community – and the other competition judges including Graham Jahn and Professor James Weirick. They saw it as fulfilling their primary desire to create a new gateway to the campus, whose compelling urban design will activate and link the university with its community.
The concept embodies the faculty’s motto, ‘Where creativity meets technology’. Screens made of aluminium sheets are perforated with the ’1s’ and ’0s’ of binary code and applied to the four tilted and skewed plates that compose the building’s volume. The screens operate at multiple scales, the transparency adjusting depending on proximity to the building. Up close, there is clear visibility through the screens; from a distance they appear uniform and continuous. The binary pattern created is a re-working of the binary sequence for ‘University of Technology Sydney Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology’.
The Faculty of Engineering in the UTS campus is one of a long list of educational projects. What do you think is the ‘recipe’ for a good project that also has a big symbolic role, like the education of the future generations?
Successful architecture embraces the pedagogical philosophy of the university and offers flexibility to cater for ever-changing needs and inevitable churn. Science education is placing more emphasis on actively involving students in learning through enhanced technology (TEAL) and environments which foster social interaction and participation, and exchange between the faculty’s schools and research centres.
In terms of its architecture, this collaborative culture materialises in the ultra thin crevasse-like atrium which links all teaching, learning and social spaces. It’s a dynamic space with open stairs, random bridge links and lounges for informal encounters.
The crevasse provides naturally-lit pedestrian access through the building, and directly links the UTS education precinct to the local neighbourhood. Full height glazing and the binary screen maintain a high level of transparency, and this openness means activities inside are visible and engaging beyond the campus.
The building is located in front of another big project, Central Park. What will be the connection between two projects that will considerably change the image of Sydney? Is there the risk that the Broadway area will be just a patchwork of projects that celebrate the architect but without any relation between them?
The location is undergoing substantial urban transformation from older mixed use into a vibrant inner urban quarter. As the old brewery changes into a major dense urban residential precinct, the university is responding with its own rejuvenation by embarking on a $1bn upgrade. Our project is one of twelve in the university’s city campus master plan.
The strength of Broadway as a major urban street leading into the CBD will ensure that individual buildings, together with the city’s development guidelines, each contribute to the larger urban vision. Good architecture is always an important contribution to the street quality and the public realm experience. Our project holds the street line, and provides weather protection to the footpaths. By opening up at street level to reveal its activities, the building will enliven the street and allow direct visual engagement of the university from the public realm.
In the project description on the UTS web page, the building is defined as a sculpture and that is destined to become one of the new landmarks in the city. How can two impact buildings, like yours and Gehry’s, live together?
Great cities around the world are marked by great urban spaces and great architecture. You can never have enough of each. If you think of Rome, the presence of more of Borromini’s, Michelangelo’s or Bernini’s work only serves to make the city more beautiful.
The same is the case for Sydney. The Broadway Building is in a different precinct to the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, and it is a measure of successful urban design that distinct projects can together significantly enhance the broader urban realm.
David Chipperfield, Director of the next Biennale of Architecture in Venice, announced on 13th February that the topic of this year’s exhibition will be ‘Common Ground’.
“I am interested in the things that architects share in common, from the conditions of the practice of architecture to the influences, collaborations, histories and affinities that frame and contextualise our work” – David Chipperfield
So how is Australia preparing for this international event next September? The topic of the Australia’s exposition is Formation: New practices in Australian Architecture. The Australian Institute of Architects presented the topic (devised by Anthony Burke, Gerard Reinmuth and TOKO Concept Design) at the end of 2011.
The six firms selected to exhibit their works in Australia’s Pavilion – Healthabitat, Supermanoeuvre, Richard Goodwin Pty Ltd, 2112 Ai (100YR City), The Architects Radio Show and Archrival – are the most innovative studios with the largest range of works from architecture projects to installations and media.
One of the most interesting presentations will be made by the non-profit organisation Healthabitat, composed of architect Paul Pholeros (architect), Paul Torzillo (doctor) and Stephan Rainow (public and environmental health officer). Their practice starred in the 1991 Biennale to improve the residential indigenous complex through the creation of the ‘Housing for Health Method’ that directly involves people living in the community.
The organisation’s model of work is extended in projects in other countries including Nepal and the US. They also won a World Habitat Award in October last year. I talked with one of Directors of Healthabitat, Paul Pholeros, about the Biennale 2012.
What can be the key to show in an international stage, like the Biennale, the actual architectural practice in Australia?
Healthabitat’s exhibition will explain how improving the living environment can improve people’s health and showcase studies of simple housing improvements in environments as diverse as rural and remote Australia, Nepalese villages and Brooklyn in urban New York City.
What would be the ‘common ground’ between Australia and Europe?
I think the common ground is far more extensive than the differences. The skills of architects, their ability to work collaboratively and the overwhelming need for the living environment to improve the lives of citizens in both Europe and Australia are all shared common ground. The differences of climate, the young land of Europe versus the old land of Australia and the different population densities are obviously important in framing the solutions, but not the aims, of Healthabitat’s work.
What could be Australia’s contribution and what can Australia learn from the actual architecture scenario?
I hope Australia’s contribution to the Biennale will be to show ways that various architectural ‘formations’ can supplement the skills of architects with the skills of many others to bring about new solutions and expand both the practice and definition of architecture. The various ‘formations’ presented in Venice all use architectural skills not with the aim of creating more architecture but to expand the reach and scope of what architecture can contribute, to increase the common ground. Healthabitat is constantly learning from many worlds including those of architecture, medicine, industrial design, community development and engineering with the aim of improving people’s lives – particularly the lives of those people who would never dream of engaging an architect and have little knowledge of what an architect’s work involves.
We will have to wait until March to find out which project will be selected to build the pavilion. The shortlist of architects is composed by: Bud Brannigan Architects, Denton Corker Marshall, John Wardle Architects, Johnson Pilton Walker, Peter Stutchbury Architecture and Sean Godsell Architects.
Two weeks ago, I talked about the Central Park project. Just across the road, another project is developing for the campus of the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). Its campus grew over the years, acquiring sites in the surrounding areas. For this reason the Master Plan Project designed by BVN attempts to sew together all of these parts and to identify key building opportunities around a public space.
There are currently four major projects under way at various stages of planning: the Faculty of IT and Engineering by Denton Corker Marshall, the UTS Tower and Podium Extension by Lacoste + Stevenson and DJRD, the Thomas Street Building by Durbach Block, and the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building Business school, by Gehry and Partners.
This is the first in a series of chats with the architects involved in the UTS Campus Project. The first architect that opened the door of his office to talk about his project is David Stevenson of Lacoste + Stevenson Architects (L+S). Their practice was established in 1997 by Thierry Lacoste and David Stevenson, and they collaborate with DJRD on big projects such as UTS campus. Their office is located in the heart of Chippendale, quite close to the project site.
They are the winners of a two stage competition for the Podium of the UTS tower. L+S identify the existing foyer space as one of UTS’s best and leave it largely untouched, concentrating their effort on the perimeter of the block, which they wrap in a voluptuous glazed skin. That smart use of different types of glass strives to create a continual visual communication between the inside and outside, giving different effects of transparency.
The use of different kinds of pattern and new sustainable technologies to create all of the facades represent the collaboration between the University and the innovative industry, that will be involved in the front-line of the project. Lace steel columns contribute to the lightness of the building. Their hollow centres allow visual connections between floors, natural vertical ventilation and for the light to penetrate deep inside.
One of the main points of the project that won L+S the competition was their idea to design a podium that contrasts with the UTS tower without taking attention away from it. Even if the Brutalist style of the tower, as David says, is not really loved by the people, the building continues to be the landmark of the university.
In a master plan that combines a large number of projects from many different architects, the risk is high that in the end the structures will become a patchwork of buildings without connection. In the opinion of Stevenson, that is just a formal aspect. The thing that matters the most is the way that the people use the complex and the spatial organisation. This is an essential architectural difference between here and Europe, where the urban development is strictly bound by the context, especially the environment’s heritage. In this way, Sydney has become a good experimentation ground to design a new city.
Like every metropolis around the world, Sydney is committed to building its future generation of architects. This became more crucial in the last decade when the city increased in importance on the international architecture circuit. The new generation of young architects will be the key to the future development of the city and creation of its character that hopefully, will not just be defined by fashion archistar projects.
The Sydney Festival 2012 is a great opportunity to show the work of the postgraduate students of the University of Sydney’s Masters of Digital Architecture program in the exposition ‘Youtopia: A passion for the dark’.
The Sydney Festival Director, Lindy Hume, has charged the Digital Architecture Research Studio to develop a theatre/performance/stage project for three different locations of the Sydney Festival: the Turbine Hall in Cockatoo Island, The Quadrangle in the University of Sydney campus and the Festival Garden in Hyde Park.
Between the 30 projects, just four were selected to be modelled in the exhibition in the Tin Sheds Gallery in the Faculty of Architecture in Chippendale, which is open between the 12th and 26th of January.
The four projects that were chosen were ‘Phosphorescence of the Sea’, an abstract installation by Sean Bryen, ‘Eroded’, the exploration of transparency through the use of different sized cylinders by Oliver Hessian and Iain Blampied, ‘Musical Chairs’ a suspended hanging sculpture by Ellen Rosengren-Fowler and Renee Blyth and the mathematical study of timber modules in ‘The Spritz’ by Rachel Couper and Ivana Kuzmanovska.
The space dedicated to the exposition is quite small, but made very interesting by its connection of the fabulous images created by advanced 3D modelling programs with the big, touchable, real-life models and prototypes created with pour materials.
Every prototype represents the perfect mix between art and architecture, and has been realised with the help of Dirk Anderson and Eduardo de Oliveira Barata of UFO Sydney, Harry Partridge of Partridge Partners and Robert Beson of AR-MA whose backgrounds include digital design, architectural practice, structural engineering, and digital fabrication. The study of audio, acoustic and light performance is the common thread of this exposition.
All of the projects are collected in the homonym book edited by Dagmar Reinhardt. The Tin Sheds Gallery is also one of the stops on the walking tour ‘Vision in Motion’, curated by the Australian artist, Narelle Jubilin, and continues with the theme of linking art and architecture. She has set up a tour of her work between the two sides of the University of Sydney Campus that passes by five of the most important buildings on the site, creating a connection between her installations and the architectures.
Jubilin has played with coloured panels, transparency and reflection of the windows to show how the architecture can become the subject of the installation. The exposition doubles as a good excuse to explore the University of Sydney campus and will be open until the 31st March 2012.
One of the projects that will change and impact Sydney’s image in the next few years will be the Central Park renovation. The project area is located in Chippendale, in the south of the CBD and bordered in the East by the University of Sydney. This park development is one of the pieces of a general regeneration of the Broadway area by Fraser Property, which also includes projects for the University of New South Wales.
The project is not just interesting because of its location and the vast area involved that includes almost 6,400 sq m of park and 11 new buildings, or because of the $2bn investment in it, but because of the mix of architects that are involved. The project team is composed of the Sydney offices of JPW Architects, Tzannes Associates, Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects and Turf Design and of the European architects Jean Nouvel Ateliers, Foster and Partners and Jeppe Aagaard Andersen.
Although Sydney is not new to welcoming projects from international firms, the close collaboration between foreign and local offices will be an interesting experiment for the development of the city. It will be fascinating to see how offices with such different backgrounds can team up together to form a masterplan to change the shape of a slice of Sydney.
Jeppe Aagaard Andersen and Turf Design have worked in the development of the landscape, more than 30,000 sq m of squares, park and public spaces that represent the heart and the arteries of the plan. Foster and Partners are also involved in the development of the masterplan and have projected the commercial area: 90,000 sq m of office and retail spaces. To not diminish the peculiarity of the area, which is characterised by little artist studios, shops and cafes, Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects have designed a mixed function area, to create a connection between the originality of the old quarter and the new habitat generated by the new centre.
Jean Nouvel has developed One Central Park, the residential buildings that will be the first step of the project to be completed, and are composed of two towers, fated to become the landmark of the project. The buildings are designed with the partnership of botanical artist Patrick Blanc whose dozens of vertical gardens incorporated into the loggias of the structure present a stunning and beautifully complex continuation of the park inside of the building.
All of the projects perfectly represent the new spirit of the ambitious manifesto ‘Sustainable Sydney 2030’ vision promoted by the City of Sydney to create a more liveable and green city in the next twenty years. For this reason all of the architects involved in the project have paid particular attention to the use of new renewable energies, cutting gas emission and developing new technologies. Actually Fraser Property has opened a pavilion close to the building site to promote the sale of the apartments and to show the people the future development with catchy models and renders.
In a shopping centre, such as the Sydney CBD’s Westfield, which contains almost any store and any brand that you could ever imagine, it is difficult to create something new that will stand out. Facet Studio rose to the challenge this past June when they designed Sneakerology and its brother Streetology. The striking impact of the project’s design is that it looks like an urban museum, where the only star is the Sneakers.
The shop is a multibrand store where the focus on the product is carried to excess. Rather than mimicking the design of typical stores where products are tightly packed into a small area, Facet Studio chose a look of simplicity invoking the feeling of standing in a museum.
The touch panel located in the centre of the store contains a complete catalogue of all of the products. Its purpose is to help the average shopper gain further understanding of the background stories of the merchandise and guide them in their shopping experience through a simple system of number codes that become part of the project concept. The most eye-catching detail of the store is the shop windows where 281 small boxes (200 mm x 600 mm) are repeated and offset by half a unit on each level. Displayed in every box is a different sneaker design, carefully catalogued with a number placed side by side each shoe.
The display rack of shoes works as a wall to define the space of the inside and outside. At the same time, its transparency makes it very permeable and allows for a continual visually perceptive relation with the inside. The strategy to repeat this pattern for the entire window creates a game where the only protagonist is the shoe. The systematic repetition of standardised units on the one hand can be read as the image of the actual business marketing strategy. On the other hand, the pattern works to enhance and emphasise the originality of each individual piece.
The store of 55 sq m is divided into two rooms. One is for T-shirts and accessories and the other is for shoes. Just some elements defining the space are the display rack and the two touch panels. The colour and the design of the shoes is brought out by the use of clear wood for the shelves and of the plexiglass box that contain a light source.
The design of the project was inspired by the architects’ Japanese origin and education in this field. Facet Studio blended the use of easy and neat geometric shapes, basic materials, such as wood, and the smart use of the light to create a bold and unique shop space. The combination of Japanese and street culture created a flawless mix. The two architects Yoshishito Kashiwagi and Olivia Shih founded Facet Studio in 2007. Their design of Sneakerology won them an Interior Design Excellence Award (IDEA) 2011 in the Retail category decreed on 25th November in Melbourne.