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Silk-Apartments-TCA-001

Location: Pyrmont, NSW
Date Completed: September 2012
Awards: 2013 NSW Architecture Award Multi Residential
Photography: Brett Boardman

This project spanned the challenging economic circumstances of the 2000 decade, and was subjected to a long development gestation and intermittent periods of prolonged inactivity. It challenged our perception of enduring architectural and aesthetic values in many ways.

The project is the final development stage within the Distillery Hill residential precinct at Pyrmont Point, immediately to the west of the Sydney Central Business District.  The precinct is a master-planned community comprised of six residential towers of approximately 20 floors each and designed by different architects. Planning relationships between the tower buildings was of utmost importance in terms of balancing natural light and privacy whilst capturing outstanding views from all apartments.

It is a place of extraordinary contextual contrasts: the benign, north-east facing harbour setting and the complex south-west aspect with its attendant noise, privacy and environmental challenges. The buildings fan-shaped plan-form and divergent facade resolutions respond directly to these conditions.

To create architectural proportion and scale appropriate to its context, the buildings broad footprint was modulated into six quite slender, vertical elements. These elements have varied expressions that evolved through response to internal program, context and orientation. The two roof portals articulate the tower form as a collection of discreet vertical elements rather than a single monolithic form.

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The south and west facades respond to the challenging south-west orientation and monumental scale of the Anzac Bridge and its surrounding post industrial landscape. These facades are generally only seen from the Bridge or at distance from nearby areas across Blackwattle Bay.  We saw this setting as an opportunity for an effervescent, graphic response to both the monumental context and incessant arterial flow of traffic to and from the city through its western gateway.  An opportunity to divest from the “beige symphony” of the Sydney urban landscape and resonate with the dynamism and blinking lights of the freeway.

The north-eastern facades are more conventional in character, with primary living spaces designed to enhance a sense of connection with the landscape and the ability to control light and privacy. The perforated, folded metal sliding sun screens were conceived as “external drapes”. The project interiors incorporate expressed precast concrete walls, floating timber floors and delicately framed timber and glass “shoji” partitions – a sophisticated, quite raw aesthetic vocabulary for high-density housing that challenged market-based paradigms for the project team.

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