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Darling Island: Sydney, Australia


When a strata building is conceived it contains the dreams of the developer and the architect. Then, when it is completed and residents have settled in, the Owners Corporation (OC) takes over responsibility for ensuring those dreams are fulfilled on a day-to-day basis. If the building isn’t properly maintained its value can quickly fall. On the flip side, a well-maintained property – and all the apartments in the complex – appreciates in value. Darling Island is one of the most prestigious apartment developments in Sydney in recent years. Located on a virtual island at the western side of Darling Harbour, it has spectacular Sydney city views and absolute water frontage. The large apartments are luxuriously and environmentally designed. However, everyone agreed that there was something about the lobbies and public areas which was letting the project down. They were bare and ordinary with no sense of luxury or style at all. The lobbies all have stunning harbour views, so it was a missed opportunity to do something spectacular. As a blank canvas, this was a great opportunity.  Our brief was to create entry spaces with a sense of exclusivity that reached the standard of the rest of the development. At the same time the design had to be efficient. Whilst the body corporate had accumulated a decent sinking fund, the budget was still very tight and we had to be creative. We used luxurious materials such as stone, bronze mirror and unique Italian geometric tiles to create the feel of an exclusive boutique or hotel. The design also had to be iconic so people would say ‘Wow’ when they walked in. We designed special 5m long fractal light sculptures as the feature element for each lobby - a sort of a 21st century jelly fish. At night these jelly-fish glow and are a beacon for the project. We also used laser cut screens to mark the entries of each of the nine lobbies in a unique way. The design was created by artist Gary Dermeidjian and is based on the maritime artifacts found at the site. So they also contribute to the public art for the development. The entry and public spaces are the first thing people see when they walk in and are the main experience people have of a building. This project shows that there is potential on many projects to spend a relatively small amount of money to completely renovate and update a building. For the owners it is like getting a whole new building, and is a big help for re-sales in the current market.  Design by: Tony Owen Partners  

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