Modernist council building in Sydney’s Ryde to be replaced

A development application for a new civic centre in the Sydney suburb of Ryde, dubbed “The New Heart of Ryde,” has been referred to the Sydney North Planning Panel.

Designed by Plus Architecture, the centre will deliver a “four-fold increase” in community facilities and include a multi-purpose community and cultural building which will contain a hall seating up to 700 people, activity rooms, meeting rooms, and an art gallery.

The project will see the demolition of the existing civic centre, a landmark International style building designed by Leslie J. Buckland and C. Druce which opened in 1964. Despite its modernist heritage, the building has its detractors, with the Sydney Morning Herald describing it as an “ugly, unloved building” and then-Liberal mayor Bill Pickering describing it as a “dinosaur” that was “falling down around [their] ears” in 2015.

The New Heart of Ryde by Plus Architecture.

The New Heart of Ryde by Plus Architecture.

An international design competition was launched in 2015 to find a replacement scheme, with China’s Beijing Institute of Architectural Design emerging victorious, but the proposal was later deemed financially unviable.

Plus Architecture’s design is estimated to cost $108 million, and will include two floors of commercially lettable space.The scheme also includes an integrated public plaza, landscaping throughout the site, 236 on-site basement car spaces and space for food and beverage offerings.

Plus Architecture director Rido Pin said the design for the centre was driven by connectivity to the context and its community.

“The proposed central plaza and public domain is very important, and how it will interact with the foyer areas of the community and civic building,” he said, in an interview with council staff. “We see a dynamic, lively and inspiring range of spaces filled with people enjoying the landscape, art and activity that brings the community together.”

The City of Ryde endorsed progressing with plans for The New Heart of Ryde following the release of a report which showed 85 percent community support for the proposal.

Mayor Jerome Laxale said the centre would address the chronic shortage of community space in Ryde.

“The New Heart of Ryde will deliver community space and facilities that the City of Ryde has been crying out for,” he said.

“As promised, the project has come in under budget and excludes any form of residential development.

“Under the plan, Council will retain 100 percent ownership of the site and the project will be funded without raising rates or reducing services. It is financially sustainable and for the first time, delivers what our community want.”

The development application will be placed on public exhibition from 15 January to 12 February.

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