Monday, 11 August 2014

1989: The never ending saga of 33 Bligh Street (Kindersley House)

I walk past a vacant 33 Bligh Street in central Sydney, and I eagerly await the construction of the new electricity substation plus a new office tower.

Above: 33 Bligh Street as of June 2014. 
Photos were taken by the Author.

It has been a long saga and it goes all the way back to 1989 when a $110 million office tower was proposed and approved. It never got off the ground.

Source: Mossop, J. 1989. "$110m office tower," The Daily Telegraph, June 23: page unknown.

As the 1990s progressed, the proposals evolved and we ended up with a 235 metre, 52 storey tower proposed for the site. I took this photo back in 2002 at the City of Sydney Model Room at Town Hall. To achieve the height, a 12 storey atrium was created that allowed the apartments to be built higher. Without this atrium, the tower would have had to be shorter in order to comply with Sydney City Council's planning guidelines.

The 52 level, 235 metre tower proposed for the site from the late 1990's/early 2000's. The model also shows the 12 storey atrium.

Photo taken by the Author.

It would have been an apartment tower and the tallest such tower in Sydney, beating the current tallest World Tower by five metres. The unique feature of the tower was that the apartments were to be located on silts stretching fifty metres high above Bligh Street.

Despite being approved by council, that fell through.

A few other proposals came and went like this one from 2007...

Source: forum

In 2009, the State Government under Nathan Rees bought out the site for a proposed CBD metro rail line as it wanted to act as an entrance to a proposed Hunter Street metro station. This fell through. With the site in state hands, it was then decided to build an electricity substation to serve the electricity demands of the Sydney CBD. This has led to our current proposal. It will be 30 levels or 165 metres tall. The electricity substation will form the podium. The building is designed by Kannfinch.

Source: forum.

What disappoints me about the proposal is that they could have allowed for even more space, but the tower needs to reflect Sydney City Council planning guidelines which have restricted the current proposal to its height. As mentioned, Bligh Apartments managed to get approved at the higher height because of the "stilts". I think the approach to the design would have worked more effectively with the additional height.

The Government and Council have in my view squandered a potential opportunity to utilise a city site to its full potential.

Awaiting the rise of a tower.
Photo taken by the Author.

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