Contemporary architectural wonders of Australia
Australia isn’t known for its consistent design. It’s common to find haphazard streetscapes of various styles and eras.
This anything-goes architectural mentality has created some amazing urban renewal projects.
While many buildings are plain old gray and ugly, others are bold and break the rules in seeking distinction.
Here are eight of the country’s most inspirational designs.
8. Paddington Reservoir
A century ago, this old water reservoir used to service the Paddington area.
But since 2009, it's been a mini-oasis in the heart of Sydney’s inner city.
Old heritage arches line sunken gardens, which creates a ruin-like look. Masonry structures contrast with steel frames and an aluminum grid.
The reservoir itself is now a giant room, lined with timbre columns and bolted brick ceilings, and is used for events. Loose furniture lines the tranquil park outside.
Paddington Reservoir, corner Oxford Street and Oatley Road, Paddington, Sydney, www.cityofsydney.gov.au
one40william is a new commercial, retail and cultural space in Perth’s city centre, completed in 2010.
It's recognized for its innovative, green design. It's elegant box structures need minimal artificial light, an angled floor plan allows air circulation and it also features rooftop gardens.
one40william’s eco-friendly design is expected to save enough water to fill more than nine Olympic-sized swimming pools, more than $190,000 worth of electricity and nearly 1,900 tons of carbon dioxide each year.
Heritage buildings have been restored and woven into this contemporary design.
Inside, one40william comprises two levels of retail space, gallery spaces, eateries, offices and a two-level car park.
one40william, 140 William St., Perth, www.one40william.com.au
6. Victorian College of the Arts Centre for Ideas
The Centre for Ideas at the Victorian College of the Arts’ St. Kida campus is an innovative building that suits its purpose: to promote thinking.
Opened in 2001, the architects argue this is a building that easily moves from the “virtual to the actual," from ideas to reality.
The building is made up of 'voronoi' (a specific mathematical representation of space), shapes and asymmetrical structures.
Various colored stainless steel panels line the building’s façade and the sculptural conical skin changes its appearance depending on the weather.
Bright colors, angular stairwells and interesting light fittings lie within.
The three-story building includes a library, union, teaching areas, computer rooms and a cafeteria.
Centre for Ideas, 234 St. Kilda Road, Southbank, Melbourne, www.vca.unimelb.edu.au
5. Sydney Tower
At 320 meters, Sydney Tower is the city’s highest building; it pierces the Sydney skyline and resembles an elegant spaceship floating above.
It comprises a single central column, held up by crisscrossing steel cables, leading to a four-story circular building and spire at the top.
To keep the building from swaying, engineers added a giant water tank at the top of the tower.
Opened to the public in 1981, the structure contains a communication facility, revolving restaurant, an observation deck with 360-degree views of the city and an open-air skywalk.
Down below, a redevelopment of the shopping center comes with clean, reflective surfaces.
Sydney Tower, 100 Market St., Sydney, www.sydneytowereye.com.au
This old railway workshop was built between 1880-89. It was transformed in 2006, while maintaining its heritage-listed industrial features.
Railway tracks weave through its open foyer and graffiti lines its walls.
It’s now CarriageWorks Contemporary Performing Arts Centre.
The high ceilings and open corridors create an industrial feel in its historic façade.
The old-meets-new design emphasizes that CarriageWorks is an artistic hub where people go to see theatre, art exhibitions and other creative works.
CarriageWorks consists of three open performance spaces housed in concrete structures to insulate them from noise. There are rehearsal rooms, workshops, office spaces, a café and a bar.
CarriageWorks, 245 Wilson St., Eveleigh, Sydney, www.carriageworks.com.au
3. State Library of Queensland
The State Library of Queensland was originally built in 1988 but redeveloped in 2006 into a space almost double its original size.
Layered fin-type structures shade the outside and create interesting patterns on the façade as the sun moves over the building.
A tall, open, interior has multiple entrance points. It's part of Brisbane’s Southbank culture precinct and the redeveloped space now houses an archive repository, an indigenous knowledge centre, an auditorium, gallery, cafés and function rooms.
The idea was to allow people to look inside without going in.
State Library of Queensland, Stanley Place, Southbank, Brisbane, www.slq.qld.gov.au
2. Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House was World Heritage listed in 2007, as one of the great architectural works of the 20th century.
Poised on the edge of the harbor, its sloping arches appear as a giant collection of seashells, viewed from many sides of the harbor, aptly reflecting the city’s relaxed beach culture.
In the beginning, Danish architect Jorn Utzon’s design was initially dismissed before a judge rescued it from a discarded heap.
What followed were eight years of special design and development to execute the shell exterior of the House. It opened in 1973.
The multi-venue performing arts space contains a concert hall, an opera theatre, a drama theatre, a playhouse, a multi-purpose room, a forecourt as well as restaurants, bars and eateries.
Sydney Opera House, 2 Macquarie St., Sydney, www.sydneyoperahouse.com
1. Federation Square
Angular, metallic and glass boxes line Federation Square’s interlocking buildings.
This vibrant civic and cultural space was developed to celebrate the Centenary of Federation in 2001.
The square includes art galleries, theatres, media originations, restaurants, bars, shops, an open amphitheatre and an outdoor area on top of a working railway in the centre of Melbourne.
It’s a controversial jewel in the city center -- some love it, others hate the futuristic look.
Royal Australian Institute of Architects dig it –- it’s the most awarded project in their history.
Federation Square, corner Swanston and Flinders streets, Melbourne, www.federationsquare.com