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Architecture: City North Substation

Aug 11, 2010
  • Article by Online Editor
  • Photography by Michael Nicholson
  • Designer
  • Architect Architects Johannsen Associates, Kann Finch

The City North Substation project was the subject of a design excellence competition to achieve an architectural concept that would respond to the site’s CBD context, provide a durable low maintenance exterior and improve the urban domain of this Sydney precinct with effective communication of the substation’s operation and provision for streetscape improvements including display of static and digital art.

City North Substation is the largest in Sydney and its envelope has three basement floors and five levels above ground presenting a considerable visible presence in this location. To break down the façade, a hierarchy of materials, layers and details were used that are both robust and appropriate in this context, while providing a suitable palette to realise a design concept that successfully engages with three street frontages and presents well when viewed from numerous surrounding commercial properties. Through a façade modulation and matrix configured around the functional elements of the substation, a ‘Mondrian’ inspired aesthetic became the source of an architectural expression for a dynamic and flexible design envelope that could be site responsive, portray a sense of the building’s function and convey an impression of the transformation of energy within and the transmission of power beyond via the distribution grid.

Team Architects: Architects Johannsen + Associates, Kann Finch Group

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