Aurora PlaceLocation: 88 Phillip Street, Sydney
1996-2000 - A $550 million high tech complex which replaced the former Premier's Wing and the State Office Block. It is comprised of two buildings linked by a glass-covered square, the tallest - the office tower - is officially named RBS Tower. It is 200 meters high, rises 44 levels, and encompasses 49,000 square meters. The residential building has 17 levels and faces Sydney's Botanical Gardens. The tower was designed to allow integration between the levels, which was achieved in part by the inclusion of winter gardens and terraces.
At first sight, the buildings seem to be an exercise in pure form, as if they were sails adopting the shape of an unfolding fan. In fact, however, the building's striking form incorporates functionality, sociability, and technological innovation. The use of double-skin in this case gives lightness to the building, and acts as a temperature regulator, thus saving valuable energy.
According to its designers, the internationally renowned Renzo Piano Building Workshop, the design has a built-in ethereal quality making it less imposing on its surroundings. "It was important to give it a delicate, free shape, as captured in the shell-like slope of the main facades. The fritted glass 'skin' of the building regulates the sun's rays and wall temperatures, while taking on a homogenous cream-white, ghostly pallor. This glass skin extends beyond the building volume, dissolving its edges, and accentuating the building's overall lightness".
This smaller east-facing residential building on Macquarie Street replaces the former low-scale Premier's Wing of the State Office Block. The use of reinforced concrete blade walls eliminates the need for space-disturbing internal columns. The dual cores allow many floors to have cross-ventilated planning, with secondary bedrooms facing Phillip Lane to the west, and the living area/master bedroom combinations facing the Botanic Gardens and Macquarie Street to the east. Structural blades within each apartment area stop short of the facade glass, with internal cavity sliders used to isolate bedrooms.
The design places a single curved facade along Phillip Lane instead, with a straight rectangular grid to Macquarie Street. Each apartment has a large external balcony with a system of operable glass louvres, an early version of which can be found on the Cite Internationale project in Lyons (1986). The highly transparent, low-iron glass eastern elevation is surrounded by a terra cotta clad frame. Aurora place won the Royal Australian Institute of Architects prestigious Wilkinson Award for residential housing in 2004.
Architects: Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Occupying the smaller of the two towers, Macquarie Apartments consist of 62 apartments over 16 levels. The entrance to the apartments is flanked with shops on the ground floor and a swimming pool and fitness studio is located on the mezzanine level.
The use of reinforced concrete blade walls eliminates the need for space-disturbing internal columns. The dual cores allow many floors to have cross-ventilated planning, with secondary bedrooms facing Phillip Lane to the west, and the living area/master bedroom combinations facing the Botanic Gardens and Macquarie Street to the east. Structural blades within each apartment area stop short of the facade glass, with internal cavity sliders used to isolate bedrooms.
The 14 storey louvred glass facade of the building, which is draped across the balconies of the apartments to create wintergardens, is the largest moving glass wall in the world. This facade shelters the occupants from rain and wind and so extends the periods when the balconies can be used. The east side of the apartments opens in a series of layers to suspend the occupants in their own "botanic garden greenhouse". Layers of sliding glass, opaque terracotta battens, motorised blinds and low-iron glass with operable louvres, allow the user to engage with or retreat from the view and climate.
v The highest floors are occupied by penthouses, having a roof garden with spectacular views, protected from the wind by the "sail", and from the sun by operable louvres. Some of the apartments have sold for close to $3 million.