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Observatory Hill Conference Centre, Sydney

Part 1 Project 2003
Stephanie Morgia
William Mckee
University of Sydney, Australia
The process of identifying and interpreting the existing site condition sought to resolve the introduction of a foreign entity and inform its placement, planning and form. The complexities of the precinct exceed well beyond the site limits to Sydney’s early development. Settlement patterns, the manipulation of the landscape, views- each are articles of historic value. Deep lacerations in the landform which were to improve vehicular access initiated the separation of precincts. The site is a contradiction in connections and isolation- visual links defy physical boundaries, and visa-versa. Street grids dissolve into complex arrays of laneways to conform to the topography. Highways skirt passed, while pedestrian paths merge, penetrate, then diverge. This threshold is the anchor to the new facility. Relationships were established through enclosure, visibility, proximity, accessibility… New connections create new dialogues, strengthen existing relationships and challenge others to form a cohesive whole- a building integrated into the very foundations of the site.
Stephanie Morgia
William Mckee

The project was for a conference centre for astronomers located adjacent to Sydney’s original observatory building. The site retains great significance in Sydney both due to its location, and its calibration of Sydney’s temporal and sidereal identity in relation to Greenwich. It also marks a key moment in the overlay of modernity on the city grid, being both neighbour and victim of the Harbour Bridge.

The project sought to incorporate the carved and constructed physical evidence of Sydney city’s earliest years – the building being a site-specific site-interpretive installation of great simplicity, demonstrating the art of knowing precisely when a design is ‘enough’ – when it is part of a place, not merely located at that place.

Dr. Quazi Zaman
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