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Public Sydney: Paving the City

66-78 Albion St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
by Benjamin Chen, Grace de Rome & Jan
2019
Interrogating the site at an urban scale is the only possible strategy for a new Government Architect Office. The proposal celebrates Sydney’s public realm through an ambitious transformation of Glebe. It is a simple yet radical approach to architecture. In a complex and low-density urban context, the project installs a generous pedestrian area. By focusing not only on the objects themselves but on their urban relationships, it proposes a network of buildings to host a large revamped GAO. 
The Bidura Children’s Court operates as the public interface of the institution. A sectional cut through the building connects Glebe Point Road with Avon street and later with the light rail station. This move also opens up the complex towards the citizens with a series of programs distributed along its ground floor including a gallery, a cafe and a library. Workspaces and meeting areas are placed along the subtlety refurbished top levels and the rest of the masterplan. The intervention also aims to set an example of how to deal with the commons. The paving, the trees, the plants and the water are key elements of the design. 
The project purposely sources local materials: sandstone, concrete chunks from the partial demolition of Bidura, are the aggregate of the bespoke terrazzo. The vegetation is carefully selected from indigenous species in combination with other well-suited ones. This new landscape strategy provides multiple services; purifying the air, lessening the heat island effect, reducing the flood caused by heavy rain showers, welcoming other ecologies and facilitating collective experience in small squares and hidden gardens. The intervention reinforces the street, it is what the city shares.
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