Pencil Tower to Pierce Sydney Skyline


A local development syndicate has lodged plans for Sydney’s skinniest tower in the city’s Midtown precinct.

Plans have been put forward for a 31-storey hotel tower at 410 Pitt Street, designed by Durbach Block Jaggers architects following an international design competition.

The winning design beat out submissions from three other shortlisted teams including Scott Carver, Sissons Architects and SJB Architects.

The Leichhardt-based developer, led by Rino Criola, Campbell Duncan and Ben Ingham, has enlisted Tricon Management Group to oversee the delivery of the slender tower, set to feature a frontage of just 6.4 metres.

The developer acquired the 342sq m site—occupied by a six-storey, 74-room boarding house—for $20 million early-2019.

An amended development application has now been put forward building on an previously approved Scott Carver-designed proposal in 2016.

“The building’s site is incredibly complex due to its restricted size and there is little to no crane access,” Durbach Block Jaggers principal Neil Durbach told The Urban Developer.

“This has been an intensive undertaking for our team in understanding the limited site access and designing the project to enable the construction team to deliver each floor progressively.

“We really wanted to accentuate the verticality and the narrowness of the tower while also paying very close attention to the underlying mechanics of such a thin building in order to be stabilised in high winds.”

410 Pitt Street Sydney
▲ The proposed tower will be thinner than Melbourne’s Phoenix apartment building, which is 29 storeys tall and 6.7 metres wide. Image: Durbach Block Jaggers Architects

The $150 million tower, which will rise between neighbouring buildings in Sydney's midtown, will feature a 3-storey lobby within a 6-storey podium that will be capped with a roof terrace at level six.

“The curved, vaulted space at the top of the building will interplay with the rooftop pool and create a reflective and lively quality on the tiled ceiling that will be visible from the street or at a distance,” Durbach said.

“There will also be a diving-board balcony that will accentuate the precariousness of the rooftop amenity.”

If approved, construction of the slim hotel could kick off in the second half of 2021 and be completed by 2023, when the developers expect Sydney hotels to have recovered to their pre-Covid trading levels, when city occupancy rates were above 80 per cent, more than double what they are now.

“The developer is confident that the hotel, which will be of an exceptional standard, will perform well despite the current downturn across the sector,” Durbach said.

“Generic, more formulaic, hotels will possibly be affected a little bit more over the coming years.

“People always want to experience new ways of living within our city, and the architectural approach of this narrow building and its tiny guest rooms on offer we feel will stir curiosity from holiday-makers or guests wanting to experience something unique.”

Hotel developers have been steadfast in their long-term outlook for the accommodation sector, looking instead to the recovery and potential undersupply once international boarders are reopened.

In Sydney, 13 hotels are currently under construction—seven of which are due to open by June of this year—comprising a total of 2,400 rooms in the CBD and 500 rooms in key fringe markets.

Late last year, Rebel Property Group and Everest Property secured approval for a $250 million 34-level hotel project at 371-375 Pitt Street which will similarly be built on a challenging 619sq m site—currently occupied by two low-rise buildings.

Developments in the works in Sydney’s midtown include two 80-storey mixed-use towers on the corner of Pitt and Liverpool streets proposed by Chinese developer Han’s Group, an 80-storey approved residential tower by Mirvac and Coombes property at 505-523 George Street and the Pitt Street Metro station which will include apartments above to be developed by Oxford Properties.

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