It’s In the Bag; Sydney’s Best New Building?

 

I remember watching  as  work  proceeded on the wonderfully  eccentric University of Technology building in Sydney.   The Aussie ‘brickies’   had never coped with anything quite like it. Creating folds and curves  from bricks is extremely difficult.  One  fellow joked that instead of laying a few hundred  a day, he was struggling to reach eighty.   Housing the School of Business, some 320,000  custom-designed, sandstone  bricks  were required.

My first view of the completed building  was from Centre Point Tower, where my partner  Rob and I  pointed it out to an overseas guest and promised ourselves we’d  go and  see it.  It  was another two years before  we ventured into Ultimo, but the architectural genius of Canadian born Frank Gehry certainly made it worth while. Gehry attended the official opening  on February 2 2015, and was interviewed by the ABC;

 

 

 

Our mother is our first teacher, which is why Gehry’s original  vision fits  this place of learning so well.  We were  even able to glance through  a  viewing panel and see  a lecture taking place in what really was a rather womb-like space.  Hmm, slightly disconcerting.  And would  this be  distracting for students?  Perhaps it’s one-way glass.

 

 

The staircase is of crumpled chrome. Great fun. I sat on the steps thinking I might enroll as a very mature student.

 

I adore the fact that the restaurant on the ground floor is called 80.  Yes, the name was inspired by the bricklayer  who said it was a challenge to lay that amount of  the unique  bricks in a day.

The eatery  has a lot of hard surfaces and can get a bit noisy at peak times, but the food is  really good. It’s also inexpensive. It cost us forty five dollars  all up for this shared platter of delights, plus  a glass of wine for Rob and and two coffees.

 

Italian platter.

What an interesting experience  it  would be for  out-of town visitors  to explore two iconic buildings in one day; Utzon’s  House of Sails  at Bennelong Point,  and Gehry’s  Squashed  Paper Bag at Ultimo. This duo of international architects have contributed so much to  our harbour city.

I remember my friend Yvonne and her companion being escorted from the foyer of the famous Gherkin, in London.  What a different experience we enjoyed here. Wandering around the university I reflected  on how  lucky we are  in Australia to have  such freedom of access in a era of   (quite  understandable)  hyper security.

Aerial view. (Coptercam)

 

STOP PRESS…. While I am very grateful for Gehry’s design, we locals had the inspiration  under our ‘beaks’ all along.  Talk about missed opportunity.

 

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4 Comments
  1. I love the design and the concept behind each decision. A very clever design, and well done to those ‘brickies’ who build the walls.

  2. It’s as you say, the building would have been very difficult for the ‘brickies’ to do their normal clean-cut job. Musicians say that singing off-key (flat) or even playing off-key, is very hard because instinctively most people with good pitch want to hear the expected sound.
    It’s such an unusual building that it must have so many viewers because it is different. Construction workers would know how skilled you’d have to be to design and construct a building with those shapes.

    • Pauline

      What an interesting parallel with the musicians, Heather and so true. It doesn’t have as many visitors as you would imagine, because it’s a little bit more difficult for visitors to reach compared to the Opera House etc.

  3. The architect certainly thought outside the square, hehe. I do admire all concerned who designed and built this unusual building as it certainly wouldn’t have been easy.

    It wouldn’t look out of place in my former home town of Christchurch, NZ, with it’s many earthquake damaged buildings.

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