The most famous architect in the world agrees that his latest building kind of looks like a crumpled brown paper bag. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, said Frank Gehry, the creator of the very wavy, very paper bag-y Dr. Chau Chak Wing Building at the University of Technology, Sydney. “It is a container, maybe it is a brown paper bag,” said the starchitect at the building’s recent opening. “But it is flexible on the inside; there is a lot of room for change and movement which I think in the world today is essential.”
Dr. Chau Chak Wing Building. (Flickr / Mal Booth)
The structure has been so universally compared to the disposable sacks used to carry a child’s lunch because of its waving brown brick facade, which certainly looks like crinkled paper—especially from a distance.The brick facade. (Flickr / Mal Booth)
To allow light into the 11-story bag—sorry, building—there are prominent, rectangular windows punched through the rippling facade. There are also large expanses of glass tucked behind the paper—sorry, brick. Taken altogether, the starchitect’s first completed project in Australia looks like a throwback to some of his early work with its heavy use of masonry. An interior staircase that is sheathed in a warped metallic skin is more in line with Gehry’s recent projects.
Since Gehry said the design was inspired by a tree house, the paper bag comparison is not ideal. When he was was recently asked if he was happy with the final product, he reportedly replied: “Oh boy, I’m Jewish and I feel guilty about everything.” Hey, chin up, Gehry. It’s not all bad news, Australia’s Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove said the building looked like “the most beautiful squashed brown paper bag” he had even seen. So, at the very least, it beat the competition.
You can watch a timelapse video of the building’s construction below.