A US$5.4bn mixed used scheme on Sydney harbour, described as “the worst of Dubai”, has been defended by the architectural firm Rogers Stirks Harbour + Partners.
Lord Rogers was in Sydney last week to review the Barangaroo project and meet the NSW Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard.
The Dubai comparison was made by architect Philip Thalis, who won the original design competition for Barangaroo. His comment of “the worst of Dubai ‘look at me’ architecture” was a reference to Rogers’ design of a 213-metre hotel.
The firm was forced to refine its scheme following criticism. The hotel’s height was scaled down to 170 metres and its bold colour – which earnt it the nickname Big Red – was toned down.
Rogers said: “The hotel is a wonderful opportunity for a landmark as long as the ground area is public domain. It’s a visual marker.”
He believes that the renewal of the 22-hectare stretch of concrete and East Darling Harbour wharves will effective turn “Sydney’s back door into another front door”.
Rogers added: “The water is critical, the public space is critical, the city is growing and you need more public space.”
Ivan Harbour, a partner at the London-based architectural firm, whose design was selected for Barangaroo, added: “We didn’t quite understand the comparison with Dubai.”