Pitt Street Mall Public Domain Upgrade by Tony Caro Architecture
Urban Design: National Commendation
Australian Institute of Architects
This is urban design of the quiet, understated variety – urban design that gets out of the way and lets the business of the city take the foreground. The result is a well-executed, restrained public domain that provides an appropriate setting for activity in one of Sydney’s busiest public spaces.
It is a subtle project, which results in huge improvement. Yet the deceptively simple resolution and expression belies a complex set of parameters; this is a difficult site with many different buildings of different ages and a multitude of stakeholders. Much of the project’s energy and budget went into undoing things to create a truly pedestrian space, such as getting rid of banal paving and creating a mute backdrop to the cacophony of branding and “design” that is contemporary retail.
The space is organized via two elegant lines running the length of the mall – one in the “floor,” solving drainage and reminding us of the Tank Stream that still flows below; the other above, providing lighting.
Details and materials are of a high quality and are considered, lending a sense of permanence to an ever-changing retail environment and demonstrating a respect for public life, the city and its citizens. This is a quiet, polite, generous and slow scheme in a fast-paced place, where identity was previously only created through relentless advertising.