Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Other Centra(l) Park

Central Park Sydney
My friends Guy Wilkinson and Rory Toomey (both in the lower left) giving me a tour of the new project. Photo ©Darren Bradley.
Sydney's latest neighborhood renewal project is in the heart of what was once a fairly modest, working class area called Chippendale, on the site of a former brewery. To ensure its success, the developers commissioned a starchitect to design it - Jean Nouvel

I have to say that coming across this place for the first time, nothing really prepares you for how insane that cantilevered shelf looks coming off the tower. It literally caused me to stop dead in my tracks. 

Since I was already stopped dead in my tracks here, I thought I'd take a photo. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Apparently, that shelf thing is a heliostat. That is, a series of mirrors that rotate to follow the sun and reflect the light on a specific target. In this case, the target is the park below the towers, which would otherwise be in the shadow of the buildings. Here's how it works: 

heliostat 1
Diagram of the heliostat and tower at One Central Park.
One Central Park with Heliostat visible. Vertical gardens by Patrick Blanc. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it, save perhaps in a James Bond film. In fact, I think Jean Nouvel should play the role of the next Bond villain, and his headquarters should be on top of this building. (Bond villains always have better taste in architecture, anyway, don't they?).  "Wis zees solaaar ahrray-inator, I shall roool zee World!!! Muhahahaha!" 

dr nouvel
OK, I digress... But while I'm on this dirt path, it also made me think a bit of Doofenshmirtz's Evil Incorporated headquarters:


OK, maybe that's just me. 

Anyway, back to this Central Park project. As I was saying, it's a mixed-use urban renewal project on the site of a brewery that closed back in 2000. It includes a public parks, residential buildings, a shopping centre and other commercial buildings, and office space. Fellow starchitect Norman Foster has been brought in to design the commercial spaces. 

This sales office is probably just a temporary space that will be torn down and removed, but I liked it. Photo ©Darren Bradley
I should also note that landscape architect Patrick Blanc, who already had a successful collaboration with Monsieur Nouvel on the Quai Branly project in Paris... 

Le Mur Végétal / Vertical Garden
It was a really dark, crappy day when I took this shot. Photo ©Darren Bradley
...has been brought in to work his vertical garden magic on One Central Park, as well. 

Yes, those are balloons. I thought they added something to the composition, don't you? Photo ©Darren Bradley. 
The building is new so the plantings haven't been established yet, but you get the idea. 


I'll stop by the next time I'm in Sydney and see how the plantings and the project is coming along, and perhaps take a few more photos. 

In the meantime, let's work on that campaign to get Jean Nouvel cast as the next James Bond villain! 


Tom said...

Appreciate this post and look forward to seeing how the plants develop. From your shots it looks like a first rate project.

Tom said...
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