Japan's Kengo Kuma Unveils Sydney's Beehive-Like Darling Exchange

Japanese architects Kengo Kuma and Associates has unveiled plans for their first Australian building which will be built at Darling Harbour as part of Lendlease’s Darling Square precinct in Sydney.

To be known as The Darling Exchange the distinctive building will be a six–storey circular building enclosed with ribbons of timber which gives a beehive-like appearance. It will be built on the site of the old Sydney Entertainment Centre.

Born in Yokohama, Japan, the practice’s founder Kengo Kuma is also professor in architecture at the Graduate School of Architecture at The University of Tokyo. He was also extensively educated at Columbia University in New York.

Kuma has said his goal is to recover the tradition of Japanese buildings and to reinterpret these for the 21st century.

“You could say that my aim is ‘to recover the place’. The place is a result of nature and time; this is the most important aspect. I think my architecture is some kind of frame of nature. With it, we can experience nature more deeply and more intimately. Transparency is a characteristic of Japanese architecture; I try to use light and natural materials to get a new kind of transparency.”*

The City of Sydney is set to take two floors on a 99-year lease in the building which will be a community and retail centre.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the new library, which will replace the current Haymarket library, was a “big win” for the area’s residents.

“I am very pleased that the City has reached an in-principle agreement with Lendlease for two floors of the fabulous Kengo Kuma building. The contemporary library will include a flexible space for seminars and workshops, with technology to support entrepreneurs and innovators,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Kengo Kuma’s striking spiral-like building is an inspired design, and this agreement with Lendlease means the City will have a building that meets the needs of the community now and into the future.”

Darling Square and The Darling Exchange, which should be completed in 2018 pending approvals,  are being developed as part of Lendlease’s $3.4 billion redevelopment and revitalisation of Darling Harbour.

 *Bognar, B. (2009). Material Immaterial: The New Work of Kengo Kuma. New York: Princeton Architectural PressImages and video from City of Sydney and Dezeen.

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