Requests and use of Documentation
Workshop in the construction site
Visits and teaching
The Foundation Publications
Contact & Information
Story - Aurora Place
Sydney, Australia, 1996/2000
In 1996, in celebration of the upcoming 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australian construction company Lend Lease Development commissioned RPBW to design and construct a commercial tower and a residential building. The project was commissioned by Australia’s leading construction company and its stated objectives included the real estate development of the area, as well as the construction of what was to be considered a “memorable” building.
The site is located between Macquarie Street and Phillip Street, in the city’s historical centre, which dates back to the mid 19th century; Macquarie Street runs alongside the Royal Botanic Garden and continues all the way up to the Opera House. Some architectural details had to be respected in order to ensure that the structure would be in harmony with Sydney’s symbolic Opera House, designed by Jørn Utzon. The land was freed up by demolishing the existing buildings (including the State Office Block designed by Ken Woolley in the 1960s) and the subsequent construction activities exploited the permissible area/height ratio in the best possible manner. This ratio was given by “light angle”, calculated in such a way so as to ensure that the Botanic Park would not receive too much shade. This constraint, which was indicated within the customer’s program, prohibited the project to shade the park’s trees, as this would have caused them serious damage.
The project includes two buildings linked together by a common square, with a glass roof that creates an urban microcosm. Both buildings’ ground floors are set back behind cylindrical pillars in order to provide shelter to passing pedestrians.
The office tower is 200 metres high and spans 41 storeys (plus 1 mezzanine), for a total area of 49,500 square metres.
The building’s “skin” is made up of a special screen-printed glass that incorporates cream-coloured ceramic particles and reflects the sun’s rays. This glass covering extends thirty metres across the building to create an enormous, and slightly curved, triangular “sail”. The roof is inclined at a “light angle” of 43 degrees with respect to the park.
In order to protect the sail against storms, steel structures with elements up to 40 mm thick have been used, which are capable of withstanding a lateral load of 18 tonnes.
The tower’s “terrestrial” component is intensified towards the lower levels: the ceramic elements increase in number and become much more evident, thus creating a dialogue with the surrounding buildings. At ground level, there’s no separation between the access lobby and the square. This continuity is highlighted by the use of the flooring material: the granite in the square is the same as that of the tower.
The ground anchoring system makes use of anchors that are driven sixteen metres into the rock below. The use of external tie rods was therefore avoided.
The residential building
The Macquarie Apartments residential complex can be accessed by crossing the square, covered by its large glass veranda. The building has 18 floors and overlooks the Sydney Botanic Garden. Its scale is proportional to the rest of Macquarie Street and its external décor (in terracotta) matches the sandstone of the surrounding buildings perfectly. The apartments are arranged in an east-west layout and occupy the entire width of the building, thus enjoying excellent ventilation on both ends. A double-blade system allows for the noise from the street below to be reduced to a minimum.
Fondazione Renzo Piano Via Pier Paolo Rubens 30a 16158 Genova Italia CF95086900107 P.IVA 02089770990