Will Danish Lightening Strike Twice In Sydney?


Danish architecture has historically been a winner in Sydney, with the

Danish-designed Sydney Opera House one of the most iconic buildings in Australia.

Now, with a new $1 billion Danish-designed building set to shape Sydney's Circular Quay, the question to be asked is: Can Danish lightening strike twice?

AMP Capital announced last week that their

Quay Quarter Design Excellence competition was won by Copenhagen-based

3XN Architects whose design will now be used in the redevelopment of the 50 Bridge Street tower.

A jury panel of six representatives from the City of Sydney and AMP Capital selected the winning design - an innovative sculptural reworking that up-cycles the existing structure.

AMP Capital’s managing director, office and industrial, Louise Mason, said the selection of the winning design was a milestone for a project that would “revitalise Sydney’s northern CBD”.

3XN’s design was selected over Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (Australia), Ingenhoven and Architectus (Germany and Sydney), Morphosis (USA), MVRDV (Netherlands) and SANAA (Japan).

John Denton was the chair of the jury panel and commented that the quality of the shortlisted architects made the judging process difficult but highly stimulating, with a great outcome being inevitable.

“AMP Capital have shown themselves to be a rare enlightened client committed to excellent architecture and the interests of the City as a whole as well as to themselves,” Mr Denton told the Australian Financial Review.

The redeveloped building is due to open in 2020.

The design revitalises the existing building, retaining its core and two thirds of the structure. The building itself will not be any taller, but using floor space ratio from the Young and Loftus Street precinct, it will widen and the floor space will double to 90,000 square metres.

Kim Herforth Nielsen, Founding Partner and Creative Director of 3XN has described the project as looking at the high rise in a new way, from both the inside out and outside in.

“It’s dynamic, shifted massing maximises views for all of the building’s users while also creating expansive open spaces that encourage the possibility for interaction, knowledge sharing and vertical connectivity,” Mr Nielsen told the Australian Financial Review.

The 200-metre high tower comprises a series of shifting glass volumes stacked upon each other. The building is divided into five separate volumes, each featuring an atria, creating smaller, more intimate social environments which encourage building occupants to connect and interact.

To avoid facing directly into the adjacent building at 33 Alfred Street, the lower levels of the tower are angled west to “capture the energy and movement from the surrounding neighbourhood”. As the building rises, the northern façade shifts to the east, enhancing the views.

The rotation of the tower is also designed to create a collection of exterior terraces that are directly linked to the multi-level interior atria, which will contain shared amenity spaces for tenants in each block. These amenities provide views vertically and horizontally, drawing the daylight into workspaces.

Mr Nielsen said: “The new tower will engage in an open dialogue with the city skyline and transform the Bridge and Alfred Street blocks into an exemplary international commercial address. We believe it will be a significant new addition to the cityscape."

Circular Quay
Circular Quay is one of the Sydney CBD’s most iconic precincts, taking on a multitude of roles including acting as a hub for business, tourism and public transport.

Circular Quay is currently being rejuvenated as part of a Program for Renewal, which includes current and future government and private sector projects within the area. The government projects, valued at around $500 million, include a new light rail connection, upgrades to the Overseas Passenger Terminal and ferry wharves, as well as general improvements to transport access, walkways and public domain.

The revitalisation will also include private projects such as the conversion of the former Coca-Cola Amatil building, and potentially the Gold Fields House, into upmarket apartments.

Investa Office head of capital transactions, commercial development and leasing Michael Cook said that if the developments go ahead, Circular Quay could regain its place as the centre for Sydney’s offices.

“Circular Quay used to be the financial heart of the CBD when Grosvenor Place and Gateway was completed,” Mr Cook told The Australian.

3XN Architects
The redevelopment of AMP Capital’s Quay Quarter will be the first major building project undertaken by a Danish architect in Sydney, since the iconic Sydney Opera House which was designed by Jørn Utzon in 1957.

3XN is a 27 year-old practice employing a staff of 90 and boasting a portfolio of sculptural buildings including the award-winning Blue Planet aquarium in Copenhagen, and new standards for the workplace, exemplified by the Saxo Bank building in Hellerup.

Internationally, 3XN is responsible for designing the Danish embassy in Berlin, the Liverpool Museum, and has recently been appointed to design the IOC headquarters in Lausanne.

Mr Nielsen found that the main challenge of designing the building was in making a building that is unique, but not alien.

“It’s an ideal location, with amazing views and we thought of how we could maximise the potential of the building,” Mr Nielsen told the Daily Telegraph.

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