Phoenix Central Park, the vision of prominent philanthropist Judith Neilson, is a project that has risen from the ashes of a vacant warehouse site in Chippendale, a gritty inner-Sydney neighbourhood surrounded by three of Sydney’s major universities. This project adds yet another gem to the revitalization of the precinct. Architecture and interior are forged as one under a superb collaboration between Durbach Block Jaggers and John Wardle Architects. The project comprises two intertwined and complementary buildings, each with its own character. Similarly, the program mixes and blurs visual and performing arts for a totally immersive experience.
The John Wardle Architects–designed art gallery to the east has a most intriguing and rich carcanet of spaces with intimate, singularly focussed alcoves and pockets. A field of skylights and an oculus window to the street are reference points that orient the observer. The western building, designed by Durbach Block Jaggers, is an outstanding, highly experiential in-the-round performance space. While small in plan, it is a soaring, cavernous space, moving and theatrical. The two buildings, with a singular external skin of bespoke bricks, enfold an entry court containing a central garden designed by 360 Degrees.
Phoenix not only provides a framework to push the boundaries of art expression, it supports artists-in-residence, public engagement and education. This unparalleled project of gallery, garden and performance has socially, economically and culturally rejuvenated the southern end of the city of Sydney and beyond.
Situated on remote and ancient sites in the Tasman National Park, the Three Capes Lodges challenged the architect to operate in the broadest capacities of our profession.
The challenge has been successfully met: the visual simplicity of the project is underpinned by an impressive ability to solve complex problems, from services logistics to weight constraints to ensure the structure was transportable by helicopter.
The buildings have been sensitively arranged to reveal selected parts of the site and distant landscape views as guests move between buildings, and also to reduce the lodge’s visual impact from afar. The predominantly timber prefabricated structures have an igneous undercarriage that conceals myriad services, all wrapped in subtly toned timber.
The design of Daramu House proceeds from its predecessor and neighbour by the same architect and client, International House, which was acknowledged with the National Award for Commercial Architecture in 2018.
The same important themes of timber technology are notable in Daramu House, but with a larger and more flexible structural grid. A grand colonnade to Hickson Road frames the streetscape and there is a real relish evident in the use of natural materials that have been finely detailed and crafted. This evolution of the streetscape completes Scotch Row, culminating in a sculpted northern corner that liberates the architecture from its rectilinear office floor.
Daramu House and International House have become exemplars for an office alternative in which substantial benefits include timber interiors, high-speed construction, and – of paramount importance – the sequestering of carbon within the structure.
Located on a corner site with a remnant heritage structure, this office building is contained and defined by a precision metal screen. The screen both mediates the interior experience and, with the opening and closing of the shutters, enacts a playful animation of the building’s facade as office occupants modify their interior environment for views and sun control.
This fresh aesthetic offers an antidote to the predominance of bland glass office buildings in the area. Here, inexpressive reflection is replaced by intriguing glimpses into the urban stage of daily office activity.