The Darling hotel is located within the dense and historic 18/19th Century context of Pyrmont, a peninsula which once provided Sydney with its industrial docklands. It has undergone significant urban renewal in the course of the last two decades similar to docklands in many cities across the globe. The project was secured through an architectural competition which required a sensitive and appropriate response to the heritage context; and required solving broader urban design, built form, and pedestrian connectivity issues largely related to an adjacent casino complex. The brief also required the creation of a separate, fresh but related identity to the adjacent casino complex, the hotel client being also the owner of the casino complex.
Following careful contextual and urban analysis, a set of design principles emerged which clarified and enhanced public movement at street level around and through the hotel as well as through the adjacent complex. Critically Pyrmont’s Union Square is re-connected to Sydney harbour and a key public transport interchange via these urban manoeuvres. The hotel lobby itself is treated as a ‘through site’ link with dual entries, facilitating public permeability and directly linking the lobby to The Darling harbour entertainment precinct. It contains active uses which enhance the public domain, and encourages public use.The carefully scaled podium relates positively to the historic neighbourhood character and streetscape through its extensive, robust and contemporary use of sandstone, many surrounding buildings being built of honey coloured Sydney sandstone quarried in Pyrmont.
The tower presents a positive and memorable form to Sydney Harbour. The tower is also responsive to its context but crisply detailed as a glass curtain. It provides a separate identity and counterpoint to the adjacent precast clad buildings of the casino complex however, the curvature of its north facade references this adjacent built-form.