Issue 63 (Dec 2015)
One Central Park is the signature residential stage within the $2 billion Central Park mixed-use development’s substantial 5.8 hectare site located in Chippendale, Sydney. Its gateway quality address, on the southern boarder of the CBD in an established neighbourhood where there’s continuing improvement, infrastructure, and underlying transport, saw Frasers Property Australia acquire the site in 2007 for joint venture development with Sekisui House. An international line-up of eminent planners and architects was assembled to modify a pre-existing master plan.
PTW Architects was appointed on the design team for One Central Park’s East and West towers alongside architecture firm Ateliers Jean Nouvel, artist/botantist Patrick Blanc and lighting artist Yann Kersale, while Smart Design Studio and Koichi Takada Architects were charged with the interior identities.
One Central Park has been conceived around a colossal 6400 square meter public park which extends skywards via dramatic vertical gardens on the east and north façades of both towers. A cantilevered heliostat captures and redirects sunlight onto gardens and into Central Park’s retail atrium by day, and doubles as an LED art installation by night. On-site, there’s a five storey underground thermal tri-generation plant (that can be scaled up as other buildings are completed), and a water recycling plant that minimises mains water demand. There’s also the potential to export surplus water and electricity to the neighbourhood. Central Park ‘The Living Mall’ runs beneath One Central Park and both have been awarded a 5 Star Green Star rating by the Green Building Council of Australia.
“We wanted design excellence, from sustainability and design perspective, and in terms of liveability,” says Frasers Property Australia Sales and Marketing Director, Paul Lowe. In conceptualising One Central Park, PTW Architects Associate Mark Giles says there was a “palpable intention” from the developers to convey the message, “that we are looking after this site and we’re going to do it well.”
“The challenge for us, as collaborating architects, was to turn this extraordinary vision into something that could make sense in a globally demanding commercial environment,” says Simon Parsons, PTW Architects Practice Leader. The solution needed to be “something achievable that matches the local market: that could be procured in a normal way, through a normal builder, and sold to a normal client”, while being mindful of the parameters clients use to compare competing product, he says. Pricing had to “make sense” commercially yet provide “relatively affordable” housing.
Creating apartments that “feel a little bit bigger” than they are, at a square meter rate that gives then “a natural purchase price”, which is competitive or lower, was the subject of months of intensive development, says Giles. It was a holistic process that explored what it would be like for somebody living in the building, their views, how they relate with the green walls, and equally dealing with, “how does this relate with its immediate neighbours, the space around it, and the people, how it is received from a city face and from a Chippendale face, and what does this now contribute to the city?”
“The whole issue of dense living is relatively new to Sydney,” says Parsons, despite “great precedent” around the world. It gets back to suburban preconceptions about space, however, “bigger isn’t better.” He asserts that “an apartment that’s well designed can be very comfortable at quite a tight space – as long as everything has been considered; the amenity, the quality of the finishes and it’s a good environment.”
To address the balance between privacy and community for the end resident at One Central Park in engaging the apartments with the public domain, a more “sensitive” approach was adopted. The façade system on the face to the city is “more linear and orchestrated,” while the face ti Chippendale presents “a much softer face, that’s more about the intimate nature of domestic living”, Giles explains.
“We establish enough of the systems and principles of privacy, and they can be elaborated upon by how people live here, they’ll create systems as well. I don’t think privacy – solely – is going to completely happen with what we do. There’s a certain time for us to pull back.”
The development strove to reach out to the local community’s underlying arts culture. Some initiatives have included conversation of a building to a studio space during the disruptive phase of construction and the allocation of commercial space for creative pursuits in Central’s retail. With the idea of being seen as a place for Sydney, the developer’s championing of Chippendale Green has been rewarded by a “strong sense of community ownership”, says Giles.
Such “extraordinary” investment in green technologies and in community would be regarded by most developers as risks, and normally eschewed, Parsons says. Conversely: “Frasers Property have had a very clear vision about the potential, and the value of contributing to the community, and creating an identity.”
“The real achievement by Frasers Property Australia, is not limited to One Central Park: it’s the revitalisation and transformation of the whole site into a community centre and its positive contribution to the energy and character of the University of Technology Sydney and the projects happening there.”
For the developers, Lowe says, there was the idea that “building what is considered to be beautiful design plus functional and appropriate, is something that leaves an enduring legacy for Sydney in terms of its growth for the future.”
ONE CENTRAL PARK, SYDNEY
Architect: Atelier Jean Nouvel, PTW
Interior Architect: Koichi Takada Architects (One Central Park’s East Tower), Smart Design Studio (One Central Park’s West Tower)
Developers: Frasers Property Australian and Sekisui House Australia
Word: Marg Hearn