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Choi Ropiha Fighera

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Australia’s top award for international architecture, the Jorn Utzøn Award for International Architecture, was awarded to a small project in one of the ‘largest’, most iconic theater locations in the world, New York’s Times Square – being awarded to the ‘red steps’ TKTS Booth/Redevelopment of Duffy Square, New York by young Sydney firm Choi Ropiha, with Perkins Eastman, PKSB.
Macquarie Street Tower- Images by Choi Ropiha Fighera

Choi Ropiha Fighera design wins competition for Sydney landmark tower
24 August 2011

A residential tower by architects Choi Ropiha Fighera has been selected through the City of Sydney Design Excellence Competition in what is planned as a new landmark on Macquarie Street.

The site for Macquarie Street Tower looks over the Sydney Harbour, the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay, and the Royal Botanical Gardens.

A number of challenges have to be overcome with the unusual configuration of the site, and its close proximity to several heritage buildings, including commercial towers and a residential building to the north, west and south.

Architect’s statement
The building form at ground level is re-ordered to make more evident the qualities of Transport House, the Justice and Police Museum, and the former Health Department Building.

By providing a greater curtilage to these buildings whilst establishing useful through site links, a more widely accessible appreciation of these buildings becomes available.

The double height entry colonnade along the southern site edge makes visible the northern facade to Transport House whilst the establishment of the courtyard to the north and the through site link will bring more people into close contact with the former Health Department Building and the Justice and Police Museum.

The combination of active ground floor commercial uses with the through site linkages, the courtyard as well as a vertical hanging garden in the lobby of the residential building will collectively create a rich destinational precinct in a part of the city that is otherwise lacking these types of places.

Our proposition is that the benefit of apartments with better view and aspect can outweigh the commercial returns from maximising floor space.

Our advice from Colliers in relation to sale prices at Stamford’s Gloucester Street development indicate that a premium of up to 30-50 per cent applies to apartments with outstanding harbour views when compared against apartments with lesser city or district views.

Hence a further sculpting of form to improve orientation and view can return value that exceeds the loss of floor space. With 5 apartments to each typical floor, the form is manipulated to shift and rotate each of these toward the north and the views of the harbour and Circular Quay to create higher value apartments.

The apartment interiors are composed to prioritise access to view and sunlight from the living areas as these are the spaces where residents will gain greatest benefit.

Living areas are composed to broaden the frontage from which the kitchen, living, dining and outdoor living can all derive optimum views and solar access.

A key strategy is a generous and comfortable occupiable edge that runs seamlessly from indoor to outdoor (winter garden) - an edge where the view and solar amenity is maximised.

Fundamental to this is the positioning of the outdoor space (Winter garden) to one side of the living area where it remains part of the living space but doesn’t interrupt the view from the interior living spaces.

The bedroom areas still benefit from the secondary views available from the site and are treated with a more closed façade to reduce heat gain whilst providing a more intimate and private bedroom environment.

Macquarie Street Tower

Program – Residential Apartment Development
Location – Sydney, NSW
Floor Area – 13 000 sqm
Client – Stamford Property Services P/L
Collaborators – Taylor Thomson Whittings, AECOM, Page Kirkland, JBA Planning, Abi Group
Visualisation – Doug & Wolf
Status – 1st Prize. In progress.

Australian architects win at the World Architecture Festival

TKTS was a project that began in 2000 with an international competition to re-design the existing TKTS booth at the centre of Times Square in New York. The competition was the largest in New York’s history at the time, and attracted designs by 683 entrants from 31 countries. While the competition brief simply requested designs for a small-scale architectural structure to replace the existing booth, we re-framed the problem as one requiring an urban design response.

Our proposal for the new ticketing booth consists of a tiered red resin staircase that rises to form a backdrop for the nearby statue of Father Duffy, simultaneously providing roofing to the booth and a public space above. The shell of the booth is lit from within, generating a powerful glow at night. The design’s iconic strength has seen it become instantly part of the identity of the city and popular culture. It was featured in the Will Smith film _I Am Legend_ and in the music-video of Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ song _Empire State of Mind_.

Widely acclaimed for the way in which both public and private benefits are derived whilst strengthening the underlying character of Times Square, it has received an unprecedented 18 international and national design awards.

*Team* Choi Ropiha, Perkins Eastman, PKSB