The Chippendale in Sydney was a treat for which we were totally unprepared. The multifaceted neighborhood which encompasses the campus of UTS (University of Technology Sydney), provides some of everything. The two most immediately striking features of the neighborhood are the innovative design and large scale of four current ultra-modern buildings and the scale of three more complexes that are being built within a few blocks of these. Among the most interesting current buildings are:
- Frank Gehry-designed Dr. Chau Chak Wing Building, which reminds one of some squashed brown paper bag, was built from more than 300,000 custom-designed bricks and windows.
- Metal-sheathed Engineering and Technology Building has a soaring central courtyard that provides a great view of the irregularly placed stairways and walkways above, and a display of scale models of a few of Leonardo da Vinci’s most ambitious technical designs (including those for a helicopter and a submarine). These models, funded by IBM are part of a much larger collection displayed in IBM’s Palisades Conference Center;
- Two LEED-certified mixed use towers that form the center-piece of the Central Square complex designed by Jean Nouvel. The complex includes a park, a ground-level shopping mall, a subterranean food could and two apartment towers. Both towers are sheathed in plants (which create the tallest vertical garden in the world) and the taller one is topped with a large, cantilevered “heliostat” (a set of mirrors that rotate to direct sunlight) that provides light to the park. The complex was recognized by the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat as one of the best tall buildings in the world.
- Two of the buildings now under construction will provide apartments and a third, a reconstructed power plant that is being designed by Foster + Partners (i.e., “starchitect” Sir Norman Foster) will be a commercial building.
These buildings alone are enough to make Chippendale an interesting stop. They, however, are only a small part of the area’s attractions. Others include:
- Chippendale Creative Precinct which includes a number of artist studios, commercial galleries and especially the fascinating White Rabbit Gallery/Museum that puts on rotating, curated exhibitions from its 2,000-piece collection from 680 different artists. (See a discussion of the gallery/museum in our Sydney Museum blog)
- Kensington Street, with its combination of small gallery-filled cottages and large, popular restaurants (Kensington Street Social, Mekong, Holy Duck, etc.).
- Spice Alley, a lane that is lined with Asian food stalls and whose open area provides seating
- Goods Line, an out-of-service railway line that has been converted into small-scale version of New York City’s High Line. This elevated platform, which is wider and much less crowded than is the High Line, contains seating and play spaces, public art and historic remnants from a recent dig on this space.