International House Sydney by Tzannes
Commercial Architecture: National Award
Australian Institute of Architects
International House Sydney in Barangaroo was at the time of its completion the tallest timber structure for a commercial building in the world. This achievement alone signifies the degree of innovation needed to realize such a complex project in the inherently conservative construction industry.
The use of several timber structural systems, and there are four types at play, is a hallmark of the prowess of the project. Building tectonics are celebrated and confidently expressed. The overt expression of the blackened services and their integration with the structure yield an honest and expressive interior that feels intimate and humane – a counterpoint to the mega-floors of most new commercial floor plates. This careful attention to detail continues through the facade, where the use of transparent glazing allows the rich internal timber structure to be clearly visible to the street as a celebration of the building’s structure as its primary identity. Such an overt expression of the tectonics of the building presents as a learning tool for this new technology using an old material.
Located between the large Barangaroo towers and the main public street that binds Barangaroo to the city, the building tempers their excessive scale and wind effects. The parti of concrete base and a cantilevered offset lighter timber portion above creates a generous public realm at the ground plane with a timber-lined verandah of ironbark strutted columns – providing a rare human scale within the Barangaroo precinct.
For more coverage, read the project review by Andrew Nimmo.