I Bligh Street, Sydney. Photo:H G Esch

29 June 2012 – I Bligh Street Sydney by Architectus + Ingenhoven Architects,  owned by the DEXUS Wholesale Property Fund & Cbus Property, has taken out the Milo Dunphy  Award for Sustainable Architecture and the Arthur G Stephenson Award for commercial architecture at the NSW Australian Institute of Architecture awards last night.

See our articles on 1 Bligh Street

Following is the jury citation:

On this unique corner site 1 Bligh Street, Sydney successfully challenges the prevailing planning doctrine of street aligning podiums with setback towers; and in so doing creates a successful public space and urban form for the city.

At the civic scale the elliptical form elegantly resolves the shift in street grid that occurs on the site while simultaneously allowing the building to extend the urban space of Farrer Place and address the historic Education Department building.

The transparency of the glass facade and stairs, as well as woven wire mesh at ground level, dematerialises the building, making it visually open and publicly accessible from the surroundings. The office building is raised, creating an open and publicly accessible ground plane with a permeability rarely seen in this building type. North facing steps skilfully resolve the awkward level changes on the steep corner site while creating a highly useable public space. An indoor/outdoor café at the top of the steps sits on a “verandah-like” space with framed views of the heritage buildings to the north.

A large public artwork by James Angus is integrated into the space, subtly defining the café seating. Large pivoting glass doors allow the lobby to be open and publicly accessible. A spectacular atrium that is integral to the environmental strategy allows public views into the building, enlivening the public experience of the lobby. On the south side of the building a green wall skilfully conceals services while creating a quieter shaded space for dining and meeting. At the building’s roof the façade is peeled away to create an outdoor terrace, providing an interesting fifth elevation for surrounding taller buildings to look upon.

This project considers the public domain in a manner rarely seen in this building type, and is a complete architectural response at every scale, from the urban form to the detail. The architects have integrated commercial, architectural and urban issues in masterful composition that is reminiscent of the best works of Harry Seidler.

And from the jury for The Sir Arthur G Stephenson Award for commercial architecture

While being a speculative commercial development, 1 Bligh Street describes an architecture that was initiated through City of Sydney design excellence process, and has been awarded for its contribution to the urban form and public realm of the city, and equally to the workplace it configured for its occupants.

The singularity of its extruded elliptical form allows an elegant resolution to a complex point of conjunction in the city: one of sloping topography, of twisting street geometry, and where surrounding commercial towers confront Sydney’s monolithic sandstone colonial buildings as they reach for northern views over the harbour.

The orientation of the tower constructs two very important civic relationships. The north-western presentation of the tower situated above its six metre high sun-drenched stair and terraced base gives structure and coherence to the remnant of Farrer Place.

The residual void to the south east along Bligh Street bounded by its landscaped services wall forms an intimate moment.

New and habitable public place for the city has arisen in complimentary adjacency to the primary entrances to the tower’s lobby. With its six star Green Star Certified Rating, it is perhaps the first commercial building to embrace Sydney’s generally benign environment.

The building’s environmental performance is a benchmark in Australia.

The most substantial feature though, has been the configuration of symmetrical twin cores on either side of the kidney-shape void that extends through the whole building. The void acts as a thermal chimney; it vents the interior of the building and allows for the creation of peripheral mixed mode spaces and visual connectivity throughout the building. The possibility of a vertical workplace campus emerges.

This interior void is one of vitality; daylit from the top, and vented through the open louvred skin of the lobby, hung glass lifts and cantilevered stairs and balconies, providing places of continuous human activity.

The achievement of 1 Bligh Street is exceptional. It represents the intelligence of a well-conceived and thoughtful architecture; it is the promise of what a tall building might be in Sydney.

Other major winners in the 2012 NSW Architecture awards included:

  • Sulman Medal –Ravenswood School for Girls – BVN Architecture
  • Lloyd Rees Award– Taronga Zoo Upper Entry Precinct – BVN Architecture
  • John Verge Awards –The John Kaldor Family Gallery, Art Gallery of New South Wales – PTW Architects
  • Aaron Bolot Award –  Bell Romero Houses – Chenchow Little Architects