Much of the current focus in collective housing in Sydney is on reconciling environmental performance with density–enshrined in SEPP 65 and its related Residential Flat Design Code. While the architecture of living spaces cannot be grounded solely on sustainable performance or demographic profiles, new morphologies need to be developed to reconcile the shift towards unplugged, compact living. After all, the ability to transform the ordinary is confirmation that our lives are not controlled by adverse global economic forces.
For many years now my company has been developing new morphologies based on the spatial structure of access galleries and cross-over planning. With its origin in the constructivist experiments of the 1920s in the former USSR, cross-over design remain relevant today and are a springboard for exploration.
Three recent projects
The characteristics of unplugged environments are expressed in three recent projects: Mondrian, Edo and Coda. Their building design focuses on passive design principles which generate breathing and tempered environments where the division between inside and outside is removed.
Mondrian, in Green Square, designed in the afterglow of the Sydney ‘Green’ Olympics, exploded the congested, central core model to create a series of finger buildings and courtyards organised around a public spine which maximised the building’s perimeter. The project was a landscape of fragments where cross flow replaced air conditioning and radiant heat sinks replaced radiators.
Edo at Woolloomooloo, is in many respects a distillation of the ideas of Mondrian, a return to essentials, where cross flow is created by the use of induced air flow from the multi-storey, Edo gallery – a sink of cool air – to the pixilated and operable western façade.
Coda, our most recent project, explores ‘unplugged’ design through three primary design strategies: permeability, pathways and volume. The design is based on crossover gallery circulation and a honeycomb spatial structure to create a more responsive and flexible living environment. The twostorey living spaces, accessed from open access galleries, allow the environment to breathe naturally, eliminating the need for air conditioning. The building is capped with exceptional sky terraces and generous roof terraces sitting under a grand sweeping parasol.