Darling Harbour in Sydney opens up with three distinctive buildings, each with their own character
Spread over 250,000 sq m in the heart of Sydney, ICC Sydney at Darling Harbour is a new global benchmark in exhibition and convention venues and an important city-shaping project which is set to transform Sydney in Australia.
Joint venture partners HASSELL + Populous worked together to design the new convention, exhibition and entertainment venues for Sydney, with inspiration from the site’s spectacular city and harbour surrounds as well as Cockle Bay’s history.
HASSELL Fellow and Project Design Director, Ken Maher, believes the project’s significance extends beyond the Darling Harbour site.
“I think architecture has a role, if not a responsibility, particularly in a project of this size, to think beyond the project itself to bring a whole new dynamic quality and reputation to the broader city, and that’s what this project will do, perhaps more than any other project in the last generation,” Ken said.
“When Darling Harbour was originally conceived it was very inward looking; this project not only renews the Darling Harbour site but provides important new connections, from Central to the harbour, and from the CBD to the neighbouring suburbs of Pyrmont and Ultimo.”
With particular expertise in the design of convention and exhibition centres, Populous Senior Principal and Joint Architecture Director Richard Breslin said the team was inspired by the natural beauty of the Sydney context to challenge traditional design for convention and exhibition buildings and capitalise on ICC Sydney’s unique setting.
“Sydney was very much our driver: the natural beauty, the built beauty, but also the people and culture of Sydney,” Richard said.
“Convention and exhibition buildings have a tendency to be introverted by their very nature, but we worked to ensure that the line between the outside and the inside was blurred – so visitors coming to any of the venues could engage with the natural and built beauty of this city.”
“The NSW Government’s goal was to have the best convention and exhibition centre in the world and they’ve certainly got it,” he said.
HASSELL Principal and Joint Architecture Director Glenn Scott explained how the precinct was designed as a whole – not three individual buildings – to achieve the overall vision of a connected public place for all of Sydney to enjoy that also reflects and celebrates aspects of Sydney in its design.
“While the design creates a cohesive whole, there was a conscious decision to design three distinctive buildings, each with their own character and identity, informed by their use and their context in the landscape: the boldness and robustness of the ICC Theatre, close to Chinatown and the city’s nightlife; the warm, earthy tones of the ICC Exhibition set in the parklands; and the reflective, crystalline ICC Convention on the harbour’s edge. In return each building connects with its immediate context physically and visually, taking in the differing views, to ensure that it is not only an internal experience but one that embraces the uniqueness of its Sydney environment” he said.
ICC Sydney precinct includes:
A convention facility capable of holding three separate concurrent events of up to 2,500 delegates
Total exhibition capacity of 35,000 sq m
A flexible entertainment theatre with a seated capacity of 8,000
An external event deck of 5,000 sq m featuring spectacular city views
A grand ballroom with banqueting space for up to 2,000 or 3,500 in cocktail mode
8,000 sq m of total meeting room space across 70 rooms
HASSELL + Populous are joint venture design consultants to the Darling Harbour Live consortium, comprising Lendlease, HOSTPLUS, First State Super, Capella Capital, AEG Ogden and Spotless which is partnering with the NSW Government to create Australia’s premier convention, exhibition and events destination, ICC Sydney.