First Look At Winning Design For $300M Ultimo Development


Concept external and internal images from Architectus for 495 Harris Street, Ultimo
Architectus has been awarded Auswin TWT's prestigious mixed-use development project at 495 Harris Street Ultimo, which is expected to have an end value of around $300 million.

Strategically located opposite the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre and next to the Ultimo Community Centre, the 5,322sqm site was the headquarters of Tabcorp and offers one of the last substantial development opportunities in the area.

Five of Australia's leading architectural firms were invited to compete for the project, with the judging panel consisting of four - one representing Auswin TWT, one appointed by the City of Sydney and two independent experts. Acclaimed architect Tony Caro chaired the jury.

The winning design shows a multi-layered building that steps down from nine-stores along Harris Street to six levels facing Bulwara Road. Conceptually it allows for a total of 213 apartments ranging from studios to three-bedrooms, including two-level terraces with street level access.

There also will be ground floor retail/commercial space and two basement levels for vehicles and bicycles, bringing the Gross Floor Area to around 20,000sqm.

The jury was impressed by Architectus' contemporary interpretation of the site's semi-industrial history, which includes a large open air courtyard and a purpose-built pedestrian laneway running from Harris Street through to Bulwara Road.

The Director of Urban Design and Planning with Architectus, Michael Harrison, said his firm had previously been engaged by a group of local residents who had been initially concerned that a new building on such a prominent site could impact their amenity.

"Armed with this knowledge we believe out scheme reflects many of their wishes for a development that doesn't overpower the neighbourhood nor compromise their privacy, and which minimises the chance of overshadowing their properties," Mr Harrison said.

"It's a complex in-fill site flanked by historic terraces and a large community centre so we deduced early on that to best integrate with its surroundings the solution was for a group of buildings set around a courtyard rather than one amorphous structure."

Architectus' Design Architect, Brendan Randles said, "An important element is the create of a number of 'slots' and walkways into the development that allows passers-by to see in, and residents to look out, and which brings lights and sunshine into the courtyard.""There will be a variety of accommodation to cater for a range of occupants, from singles to families, including wide-fronted apartments and 'through' apartments with dual aspects," said Mr Randles. "The terrace-style apartments along Bulwara Road and the new lane provide a visual and emotional 'connection' to the suburbs' existing terraces."The history of the Harris Street site is also interesting. It was originally owned by the Harris family who were the dominant landowners in the area for more than a century. Bushells Tea purchased the site in 1938 and built a four-storey warehouse to store its produce.

In 1964 the newly founded Totalizer Agency Board (TAB) acquired the property as its headquarters and nerve centre for betting business. In 2004 TAB was taken over by the Victorian-based wagering and media company Tabcorp, which 10 years later sold the property to Auswin TWT.

"We will be calling our project New Life/Ultimo," said the General Manager of Auswin TWT, Stephen Fitzpatrick. "As its name implies, the development will help breathe new life into Ultimo on one of the suburb's most important sites.

"Our company is committed to art and architecture, and our residential living vision comes from a desire to provide open, flexible, creative living environments. Each of our developments must have a strong visual presence from street level and be inspired places in which to live and work." 

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