Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Silk Apartments in Pyrmont, Australia by Tony Caro Architecture
July 19th, 2013 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Tony Caro Architecture
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.
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.
2013 NSW ARCHITECTURE AWARD FOR RESIDENTIAL ARCHITECTURE – MULTIPLE HOUSING JURY CITATION
Silk Apartments deliver remarkable internal amenity through careful planning and simple elegant architectural expression. The building is well considered and peruses a number of clever planning initiatives to enhance the living experience – deep inset balconies achieve protected external living environments while pushing living rooms to the buildings edge, engaging occupants with the view.
Externally the building is robust and simple. To the south the building addresses the broader urban realm of Anzac bridge through the bold use of colour, heralding the western entry to the CBD. The north, east and west facades are structured around strong vertical gaps driven into the building form which act to reduce the overall bulk and scale – giving the tower a slighter and more elegant form than the plan would suggest.
Folded screens are employed across the balcony edges, reducing the northern heat load. They are simple and effective, offering a light, beautiful layer to the building both internally and externally.
Entries to the building address both the public water edge and the more private hill-side of the site. Both are intimate and personal with the popular hill-side entry cleverly mediating the immense scale of the tower and that of the individual pedestrian to achieve a calm, easy and homely environment.
This building has been delivered by a practice that understands post – occupancy issues. Details have been designed to enable easy ongoing use and maintenance – often overlooked in multiple housing projects
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