Influencing positive change through design: Woods Bagot in ‘The Material City’

‘The Material City’ is a new publication of 50 exemplary projects demonstrating how Australian architects are responding to and influencing good urban densification.

Two of the case studies are the work of Woods Bagot, the global architecture studio with a strong commitment to people-centric ideals and influencing positive change through design.

In the heart of Sydney, Wynyard Walk – the pedestrian link that cuts walking time between Wynyard Station and the Barangaroo waterfront to just six minutes and brings beauty to the public transport experience – is a class act design strategy that makes public transport a much more attractive option.

Declared a work of “infrastructural significance” by a jury of Australia’s eminent designers, as many as 20,000 pedestrians move through the walk, safely and quickly, every hour at peak times. The project provides more ways in and out of Wynyard Station and encourages the use of public transport through a celebration of movement.

Woods Bagot’s global design leader and the project’s design director, Domenic Alvaro said,

“Wynyard Walk satisfies our human desire to follow the most straightforward route and in a memorably wonderful way. Your journey flows uninterrupted underground and into the light-filled gateways of the Clarence Street and western portal entrances. The integrated digital art combines art, culture and technology to create a series of visual experiences – it’s a thoroughly beautiful encounter.”

In Adelaide, the Tonsley Main Assembly Building by Woods Bagot and Tridente Architects is the adaptive reuse of a former car assembly building into an open air community space playing a central role in the ongoing development of a 61-hectare innovation district.

Rather than follow the typical industrial park approach, which would have had limited value to the industry and the wider community, the architects instead imagined a thriving community within the significant industrial remains of the Tonsley site. Sustainability was paramount – not only in environmentally sustainable design but also through the impact economically, socially and culturally of the site’s regeneration.

Woods Bagot director and Tonsley project director, Thomas Masullo said,

“A critical issue of contemporary culture and our profession is the role architecture can play in repairing and developing the built environment for great community benefit. Wynyard Walk and Tonsley are globally significant projects advocating the relevance of architecture, particularly in re-thinking the design of our cities, public places and buildings for a viable future.”

Across a range of scales and project types using a multitude of materials, ‘The Material City’ canvases the ingenuity and creativity of the architecture profession. Its case studies span contemporary issues such as old/new and adaptation, good living – apartment sizes and building density, affordability, and transportation and connectivity.

Curated and edited by Ron Ringer, the case study selections for ‘The Material City’ were reviewed by a panel including architects Andrew Benn, Mel Bright, Adam Haddow, Michael Heenan, Bob Nation, Rachel Neeson and Stephen Varady. The case studies are followed by a collection of 18 essays exploring the urban condition, including Adam Haddow’s praise of infill, and Stefan Mee’s discussion of ideas for a ‘history of place.’

‘The Material City’ will be launched at a Brickworks event in Sydney on Tuesday 5 February 2019.