ASPECT Studios, SJB, Silvester Fuller, Studio Bright, Carter Williamson, Lippmann Partnership
ASPECT Studios have designed a porous city precinct that layers different kinds of public activity in Sydney’s new Quay Quarter. The precinct is a sequence of places connected through a habitable, pedestrian-focused public domain. The project as a whole builds upon the existing network of streets and laneways to creating new platforms for public activity that respond to the highly articulated street addresses of the new city buildings.
By enlivening three city streets through this careful design, ASPECT Studios are creating a cohesive precinct where people can work, live and play in the CBD. Quay Quarter Lanes is the rejuvenation of a city block comprising of Phillip, Young and Loftus Streets in the heart of Sydney City at Circular Quay. The project comprises a collection of new and restored buildings, arcades and laneways. Together with a suite of neighbouring Circular Quay rejuvenation projects, Quay Quarter Lanes contributes to a generational reshaping of this gateway neighbourhood to Sydney Harbour.
Nowhere are these ambitions more clearly embodied than in Loftus Lane, where ASPECT Studios has created a new central spine that provides a moment of fine-grain intimacy and reprieve from the scale of the overall development and the more monumental scale of this part of Sydney. Once a service lane used only by delivery drivers and the odd taxi, the design returned the laneway to the people by rationalising the vehicular building entries into a single basement entrance – sweeping the cars out of the laneway and replacing them with a human-scaled, lively public space.
The landscape architecture responds to the articulated frontages of the new buildings by carving out miniature plazas and squares in the space left by set-backs and recesses, meaning that the lane continually changes in shape and size, creating a mix of semi-defined spaces that invite people to linger.
Part of turning this disused street into a public asset involved lavishing attention on small details. Filigree brass elements will weather as time passes, with the changing patina a reminder of how this space belongs to the public. A warm material palette that references the two sandstone buildings addressing the lane creates a sense of cohesion and a unique visual identity. The planting throughout the space is rich and stimulating and enmeshed within the landscape are artworks by Jonathan Jones which invite inquiry and reflection on the interplay between the city’s First Nations and colonial heritage.
The ASPECT Studios-designed spaces to come include a publicly accessible rooftop at 50 Bridge Street, where views of the harbour bridge and a new artwork by Olafur Eliasson have been designed in partnership, and Goldsborough Lane, a through-site-link which restores the long-lost linkage of Young Street with Phillip Street.
Sacha Coles, Studio Director for ASPECT Studios’ Sydney studio, said, “One of the most interesting aspects of the project was working with each of the architects on the interfaces to their buildings. That collaboration led us to create something that harmonizes those architectural voices without attempting to flatten them into a single expression.
“Part of the delight of Loftus Lane is that it features a surprising mix of details, materials, colours and textures, which creates a sense of liveliness not unlike what you might find in an old European city.”