Debate continues over high-rise Barangaroo developments

In contrast to the residential sprawl of Sydney’s west, the development of Sydney’s urban precinct Barangaroo is only going up and up. Last week, developers Lend Lease released the plans for the first of three giant office towers for the East Darling Harbour development, known as ‘C4’.

According to developers, C4 will be the ‘greenest business address in the world’, using 75 per cent less energy than the average Sydney office building, recycling all water and offering only 188 car spaces compared with parking for 708 bicycles. At 180 metres high, with floor plates of 2,500 square metres, it will offer ‘vertical villages’ for architectural interest, breakout places for workers to socialise, a garden on the roof of the 43rd storey gazing over the harbour, and will attract a minimum six star environmental rating.

This is the first of three towers. The Sydney Lord Mayor, even though a great supporter of green environmental developments, is not happy with the bulk of the building. In order to achieve the large floor space demands from potential financial client tenants, the width of building will run 85 metres east to west. This is 30 metres longer than most other office towers, and according to many city planners, is big enough to totally block the winter sun to the south of it.

The City wants the top third of all three tower buildings tapered to let in more sun, to which Lend Lease has declined, adding to a growing list of disputes about the size of the buildings.
According to one of the architects interviewed for an article, Ed Lippmann, ‘fewer buildings that are taller is better than a lot of squat buildings – that is consistent with urban planning trends worldwide. It will… create a very vibrant pedestrian precinct and protect the rest of Barangaroo as a green precinct.’

Urban office developments such as Barangaroo highlight the trend towards increased building capacity coupled with reduced minimum parking requirements for their tenants. Meanwhile, the urban sprawl we documented in our previous post indicates that as the city grows the  population becomes further distributed, with an increased reliance on motor vehicles as their only form of transportation. The contrast between the ‘inner’ city and the ‘outer’ city seems at odds with each other, and perhaps should call for urban planners to examine the ‘whole’ picture of the city; and not only the requirements of each area independently.

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