2016 Inception Award | Fruit

Michael Stonham


Site: Barangaroo North Headland (the Cutaway), Sydney Harbour


Barangaroo is currently Sydney’s biggest project and precinct under development, set to be complete in 2023. My project is based on a statistical analysis of the tourism expectations for this site. Barangaroo is located at Millers Point which is the neighbouring headland to Bennelong Point and location of the famous Sydney Opera House.

Barangaroo sets to see the likes of 12 million visitors a year or 33,000 a day. Sydney’s tourism statistics by government organisation Destinations NSW claimed that Sydney saw a record high of 12.3 million visitors in 2015. If Barangaroo were to reach their target, 97.5 percent of people who visit Sydney, would need to visit Barangaroo on their typical 3 day stay. Unlikely, in its current state. However, rather than take these numbers as a statistical blowout, I decided to make this the crux of exploration and to set out to solve these numbers.

I then decided to explore the nature of an urban square and attempt to plant one in the interior of the site. As shown in my planing, I have a series of architectural follies that latch onto selected columns in an attempt to realise the idea of ancillary spaces that are typical to a square. These follies would take on the functions of bars, restaurants, gift shops and a theatre. The idea for an interior square, was to include all people, as a square is multi-functional and informal, you need no pretence to visit one.

James Packer is an Australian billionaire, inheriting his fathers business of Crown Hotels. Packer is planning to build on the Barangaroo site Sydney’s biggest skyscraper and in it will be a hotel and casino. In doing so, Packer’s hotel’s footprint breaches the original 50% quota for urban public territory, and thus drives my motivation to reclaim public space with an interior square.

Packer also signifies that his building will be more iconic than the Sydney Opera House, I believe this claim is puzzling. I decided to investigate: if Packer’s statement of naming something iconic was that easy, was an icon able to be created from a methodology?

My research then took me to a theoretical and physical deconstruction of the Sydney Opera House. I set out to discover one of the world’s most iconic buildings, and I did so by understanding key theories set by Jorn Oberg Utzon. Utzon spoke of the Opera House and its site context. It is situated on a raised platform in the middle of the harbour and is able to be viewed from all vantage points and seen at all times. Utzon speaks of the idea of a “5th Elevation” or facade to his Opera House, claiming that his icon does not just have a front, back, left and right elevation, but that his building is able to viewed orthogonally and perceived from multiple angles. In doing so it acts as a gestalt image and rests in memory, but still being ever changing and revealing. Gestalt imagery informs my design.