QUICK FACTSProject// Darling SquareArchitect// Tzannes Developer//Lend LeaseBrick Layer// Favetti Group Photography// Ben GuthrieFeatured Products// Bowral76 + Special Shapes in Bowral Blue & Austral Bricks Burlesque in Indulgent White + Special Shapes
Darling Square: the stunning new residence that uses over half a million bricksThe versatility of Bowral Bricks is on full display at central Sydney’s newest mixed-use precinct, Darling Square.When award-winning Sydney architects Tzannes began brainstorming ideas for a residential development in the inner-city suburb of Ultimo, they were immediately inspired by the heritage brick warehouses and commercial buildings that dot the area.“It’s got a lot of beautiful brick buildings that we found very interesting, and we wanted to be part of that history, right up to Frank Gehry’s recent building for UTS, which also reinvents the way brick is used,” says Tzannes director Ben Green.
The new building, Darling Square North, is part of the larger Darling Square development: a mixed-use precinct that comprises several residential buildings plus office space, a library, food and beverage venues, retail outlets and green space. Composed of a brick podium and three residential towers, the tallest of which is 19 storeys, Darling Square North is a significant addition to the urban landscape, made all the more notable by its shimmering brick façade. It’s the tallest building in Sydney to be made out of brick in almost 100 years.Green and his colleagues were acutely aware that, in order to be architecturally successful, Darling Square North would need to synthesise the old and the new. Their ambitious goal was to revitalise high-rise residential design in Sydney while simultaneously adding character to Ultimo’s historic streetscape.
“We had a great design ambition to be able to use the brick in a conventional and traditional way of detailing, but have very subtle changes with the finish, with the shapes, and with the different colours,” says Tzannes director Chi Melhem.So, the firm contacted Bowral Bricks and began discussing a range of innovative material solutions. Notably, Tzannes had a vision that some of the brickwork would subtly reflect the light rather than appearing matte, creating a modern look while simultaneously holding up a mirror to the building’s heritage surrounds.“Brickworks came in and worked very hard with us to develop a fantastic opal finish that didn’t exist at the time,” says Melhem. That opal finish, which was achieved by polishing, allowed Tzannes to construct Darling Square North with various types of brown bricks that were not suitable for glazing.
The architects’ design also makes extensive use of obtuse angles and curved corners, requiring bricks in various non-standard shapes. In total, Brickworks created more than 70 custom shapes and sizes for the project, leveraging its unparalleled manual and robotic production capabilities at its factory in Bowral. Varying brick shades and the use of matte, polished and glazed bricks create a subtle yet sophisticated palette.
All told, there are more than 600,000 bricks in Darling Square North. Melhem says the finished building’s textured and historically sympathetic appearance could not have been achieved without close consultation with Brickworks.“I think it’s a really good example of how the industry should be working, which is really about collaboration,” she says. “There are so many minds and so many hands that complete a project, and when we work together, we come up with some great innovative solutions.”