This week I met with Mitchell Thompson from architecture firm, Durbach Block Jaggers to talk about their project that won an international competition for the UTS Thomas Street Building, borne from a collaboration with BVN. The building will house many services for the UTS Science Faculty. Durbach Block Jaggers Architects is a Sydney-based architectural firm with a small team that have worked together for over 10 years. Their practice is focused especially in residential and public/commercial projects.
Describe the concept of your project in three words?
Animated, connected and flexible.
What do you think was the key that allowed at your project to be the winner in the competition?
We think that perhaps the competition jury identified with the design’s combination of an emotive and memorable form with a rational and flexible functionality.
The building is located in front of another major scheme, like Central Park. What will be the connection between two projects that will considerably change the image of Sydney?
There is no deliberate link between our proposal and the new development called Central Park. Broadway road itself is a major buffer between the development and the university. The ‘Alumni Green’ is really a bit like UTS’ version of Central Park in New York. Our intention is to enhance and protect this space and so we imagined our new building as a grove of trees at the edge of a beautiful green. It is our hope that the fine grained and variegated façade combined with its organic form will be evocative of this idea.
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?
Good architecture will always intelligently acknowledge its neighbours and ensure that the whole is more than just the sum of its parts.
What is the approach when you have to work in the middle of other big projects, of architects with such strong personalities as Jean Nouvel, Frank Gehry…?
Strong architecture creates a context that deserves and demands a response that strives to emulate the architectural and urban ambition but not their form.