Darling Square North explores the way housing density in the city and place shaping design principles can create distinctive, memorable and active places. The design process examined how large, precinct wide projects, deliver appropriate urban form at a city making scale, while enhancing the pedestrian experience through materials, detail and proportion at the human scale.
The design of this mixed use multi-residential tower is derived from its context. The architecture responds to the incidental character of the surrounding public spaces and is informed by the legacy of brick buildings in the area. Masonry ties the building to its place with the ubiquitous material enhanced by variety in detail, articulating the built form while retaining coherence for the project as a whole.
To realise the intricacy of the numerous special junctions and corners articulating the building, 77 unique brick types were used. These included several standard shapes and finishes, with the remaining non-standard suite of brick types the result of a collaboration with Brickworks and Lendlease. Dark bricks mirror the tones of adjacent historic buildings at the ground floor retail; white glazed bricks articulate and mark important entries. Brown bricks are used for the remaining building, refined by a composition of dry pressed bricks and a novel polished finish. The polished finish transforms the perception of the brick depending on aspect, light and shadow. The detailed interrelationship of these elements and coursing strategies provides a fine grain and level of craft unusual for a building of this scale.
The built form reflects its internal planning and residential amenity. Solid brick spandrels provide privacy at the lower levels, while glazing opens up on the upper levels to orientate towards views.
The retail strategy at ground floor extends the fine-grained historical context while ensuring a cohesive design to the pedestrian experience through material palette and framing of the retail openings. An infill ‘kit of parts’ was developed with variation in shopfront operability and configuration in addition to coloured retractable awnings on the square. The kit parts provide for future flexibility and the diversity of shopfront types creates variety in the character and scale of tenancies, encouraging an engaging ground floor plane.
Darling Square is an exemplar for residential density woven into the existing city fabric. It reflects the existing character of its context through a contemporary interpretation of masonry construction shaping the emerging identity of the new precinct.