Kengo Kuma has revealed plans for his first building in Australia, a cylindrical civic centre by Sydney’s Darling Harbour that will feature the Japanese architect’s characteristic timber cladding.
Ribbons of light-coloured wood will wrap the curving building known as The Darling Exchange in an “organic and spontaneous manner” said Kuma.
Its six curving floor plates are shifted off-centre and walkways are angled to create a spiralling form – not dissimilar to the design developed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron for a new college at the University of Oxford.
The building will contain a library, childcare centre and market hall as well as a rooftop bar and restaurant with views over Tumbalong Park, the Chinese Gardens and Cockle Bay. It will also host a “makerspace” and Innovation Exchange to support creative and technology start-ups.
“Our aim is to achieve architecture that is as open and tangible as possible to the community, and this is reflected in the circular geometry that creates a building that is accessible and recognisable from multiple directions,” said Kengo Kuma.
“The wooden screen wraps the exterior of the building in a dynamic and exciting manner, a historical reference to Darling Harbour originally being a hive of business activity and a focal point as a market exchange.”
Gaps between the strips of timber will allow snippets of activity within the building and its external ramping walkways to be seen from a new public plaza below.
This 2,700-square-metre space, known as Darling Square 2,700-square-metre has been designed by Australian landscape and urban design firm Aspect Studios.
Both Darling Square and The Darling Exchange are being developed by property company Lendlease as part of the AU$3.4 billion revitalisation of Darling Harbour.
The redevelopment is expected to contain housing for 4,200 residents, provide jobs for 2,500 people, and attract visitors to the area.
An eight-metre-wide lane will be created to improve pedestrian links between Darling Square and the city’s Chinatown.
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