Darling Harbour is a space in transition. As park and new programmes come in, edges soften, nature seeps in, and structures acquire more details. This concept explores the possibility of creating a subtle balance between two apparently opposing movements: on one hand the need to accept urban sprawl as a necessary change and on the other the desire to maintain the spirit of the harbour experience. The resulting architecture is composed of large open spaces and clear formal moves that keep the actual scale legible. Spatial continuities on the existing edges and visual continuities from around the site further shape the development allowing maximum permeability and connectivity. Architecturally, the new spirit is that of a wharf that has become inhabited.
On the Southern edge of the site, the plan is vertically divided in three strips that extend from King Street wharf. On the Northern tip of the site, the cliff edge is backfilled creating a green hill that dialogues with Observatory Hill and allows a smooth bike and pedestrian way from Miller’s point. The hill is followed by a series of mounds that seep their way in between the two strips of buildings extending the permeable ground floor from Hickson Road to the shore. Two new pedestrian bridges above Hickson allow for neighboring communities to access the site from High Street. On the shoreline, an uninterrupted promenade continues the proposed 14Km walk from King Street Wharf to Walsh Bay in a series of experiences that include viewing platforms, wharf signals, container boxes, and creek at the tip.
An oblique line coming from Sydney observatory hill determines the limit of the high-rise zone. Two podia including offices, passenger terminal, retail and restaurants are placed south of this line. They are topped on the eastern podium by a 16 story office development shaped by sightlines. The remaining zone North of the oblique is dedicated to low-rise residential and hotel programmes. Car traffic within the site is limited to a passenger and taxi drop-off belt in between the two podia and an underground car park that is accessed from Hickson Road. All of the remaining ground floor is an open park totaling 170,000sqm.
Project Status: Competition Entry.
Designed by Karim Nader and Patrick Mezher.
Photomontages by Michel Dani.