Adjaye Associates unveils a tightly-balanced public plaza for Sydney

Starry Night All The Time

Adjaye Associates unveils a tightly-balanced public plaza for Sydney

David Adjaye and Daniel Boyd have unveiled their design for a new public plaza in Sydney's Central Business District. (Courtesy Adjaye Associates)

David Adjaye and contemporary Aboriginal artist Daniel Boyd have unveiled their design for a new public plaza in Sydney’s Central Business District. Adjaye Associates’ first project in Sydney, the new building and plaza will be located at 180 George Street, the site of Lendlease’s Circular Quay Tower designed by Foster + Partners. 

Following a competitive expression of interest process, the City of Sydney announced Adjaye and Boyd will design the public square, a community building, and a public work of art, all three of which will be built by Lendlease and then handed over to the city as a public asset. 

A rendering of a small house shaped building amidst taller towers situated within a public square. The building has a balcony where people can meet and relax.
One side of the building will feature a “garden terrace” balcony which will be open to the public and allow visitors to look out over the plaza. (Courtesy Adjaye Associates)

“Rooted in lost history, the new Sydney Plaza is about the meaning of place, heritage, and identity,” stated a recent press release. “An attempt to uncover, layer, and celebrate the Eora origins of this part of coastal Sydney, the project is about reconciliation of cultures…and aims to articulate dialogue around the complex relationship colonizers have to their indigenous communities.” 

Referencing the dwellings of Australia’s early European settlers, the new public building will take the form of a pitched roof house with fluted exterior cladding, a symbol of shelter and respite in the context of the city’s busy streetscape. It is expected to be used as a flexible, multipurpose space with room for an open plan cafe, meeting spaces, gallery, and garden terrace. Adjaye stated that he hoped the space would become a “place for people to connect, recharge, reflect and take a pause from the rhythm of a fast-transforming city,” according to The Sydney Morning Herald

Rendering of a Sydney public plaza with a perforated steel sheet over top
Daniel Boyd’s perforated steel sculpture will allow light to filter through circular cut-outs, inspired by Aboriginal dot paintings. (Courtesy Adjaye Associates)

Boyd’s monumental perforated steel sculpture will jut out above the building and adjacent plaza, filtering light onto the public space below through multiple-sized apertures inspired by Aboriginal dot paintings. 65 feet tall with only minimal support, Boyd’s structure visually appears as a ceiling to an outdoor living room. Sydney’s Director of City Planning, Graham Jahn stated, according to ArchitectureAU,  that “This is an incredibly powerful work because it’s so unusual. It’s a public square but it’s also a room within the city. It has wonderful ambiguity and the potential for an incredible presence in the evening.” 

The project is anticipated to be completed by 2022.