This stunning building proposed for Sydney’s Darling Harbour precinct is being flagged as a possible future home for Google Australia.
The concept for “The Ribbon” takes advantage of cutting-edge building technologies that allow for twisting glass facades — as seen in London’s The Shard — and is being marketed as a prestige home for a major company.
It’s at the current location of Sydney’s IMAX theatre and is right next to Commonwealth Bank’s new complex at Darling Quarter, which houses over 6,000 personnel.
Australia’s largest private developer Grocon and property management company Markham announced they had submitted a development application for the project this week. They say they are aiming to create a landmark similar to The Shard or the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
Grocon’s NSW general manager Chris Carolan told Business Insider the design drew on an emerging trend for “these innovative curved structures, all around the world, including in the Middle East and China. We want to bring it to this country.”
Sydney’s corporate architecture is generally conservative, and statements tend to be matters of height or signage rather than creative design. The Ribbon sweeps upwards and outwards from the ground along its east-west axis, with an undulating facade made entirely from glass wrapping around the building.
The building leans in towards the heart of the CBD and its roof, visible from the expressways that pass it, has varying curves designed into it as it approaches the upper storeys. Grocon worked on the design with architects HASSELL.
Inside, the furthest you can get from a window is 12m. The windows have a particularly slick feature that will excite any desk jockey: they are triple glazed and contain a venetian shade sitting in a cavity between the glass panels to keep the sun out when needed. Oh, they’re computer-controlled, too. No cord-wrestling.
This gets around one of the drawbacks of many modern offices which have large window areas but rely heavily on the use of overhanging ledges, fixed slats and other shading devices which, while keeping out the harsh summer sun, also block the view.
“Our research has shown that some of what people see as internal comfort is the ability to see outside,” Carolan said.
The Australian reported that Google has “looked hard at the site” as a potential future location if it outgrows its current offices in nearby Pyrmont.
If the development is approved by authorities it would take around three years to build. Assuming it was ready to occupy around 2017, its first openings would line up closely with the expiry of Google’s current property commitments which expire the following year, in 2018.
A spokesman for Google said the company did not comment on speculation.
Google is growing quickly — it now has 800 employees in Australia, up from 350 in 2010. The Ribbon has just over 41,000 square meters of office space. Carolan said their standard measure was 13 metres squared per person in office space, which would allow it to fit around 3,200 people.
However, another commercial property source told Business Insider the building could “easily accommodate 4,000 workstations and 5,000 people in an agile work style [like] activity-based working”.
Either way it would likely comfortably fit Google Australia even if the company was to continue at its recent rate of expansion.
Alternatively The Ribbon could fit a bank, or one of the major accounting firms. EY’s current office is nearby on George St, but it announced plans to move to the north end of the city by 2017 earlier this year.
Corporations’ increasing demands for “activity-based working” office environments have been integrated into the design, Carolan said. For example, the air conditioning is highly localised, allowing companies to save money on areas that aren’t being used.
The complex will also have some retail space, and the IMAX gets to stay.
The west side of the CBD is the focus of intense development activity. Following the Commonwealth Bank’s development of Darling Quarter, the nearby Sydney Convention Centre is being demolished and rebuilt in a $US1 billion makeover, and Mirvac Group is in the process of acquiring the Harbourside shopping centre. Only a few blocks further north, there’s Barangaroo, the site of more major developments including James Packer’s proposed casino.
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