The international competition, for a community library and public space in one of Sydneys most important regeneration areas, has thrown up a clear winner. Young local architects Stewart Hollenstein, in association with Colin Stewart Architects offered a scheme recognizably different in ideology and architectural approach, and have been deservedly rewarded for it. The winning design incorporates an outdoor plaza to create multiple sites for play, work and rest. Some of the buildings are below ground while bookshelves sit outdoors in the plaza. The design includes an amphitheater, a storytelling garden, water play zone and wide open spaces for festivals.
The overwhelming majority of the more than 140 other entries were desperately looking for some reason behind buildings as objects, with some of the narratives highlighting the arbitrary search for novel forms that characterizes contemporary architecture. In contrast, the Stewart Hollenstein and Colin Stewart entry stood out even in the short listed schemes, for having a true appreciation of urban design as an emergent phenomenon.
During the second stage design development, when the identities of the short listed entrants were already known, the presence in the collaboration of the hugely experienced Colin Stewart must have given the jury comfort. Colin started his urban design career as a student by being a runner up in the Pompidou Centre Competition over forty years ago, and was in the right place at the right time to grasp some unique opportunities for creating town centres during the development of contemporary Canberra. But to put too much weight on that would be doing no justice to the other members of the team, whose progress through the Architecture program at the University of New South Wales always suggested they would be stars to watch. The jury's citation says it all:
For the jury's comments, and downloadable PDF files of the winning entry, go to the site of the City of Sydney here."By far the most interesting and stimulating Stage 1 design and was unanimously agreed that it was simply the most appropriate proposal for this site."
If you are enthusiastic enough, you can review all of the entries by downloading the whole collection at:
Other links with videos and more images: