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1BlighStreet - Ingenhoven + architectus
September 2011
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  "Do you know how many city planning rules this building breaks?"

 

 I've met Tony Gulliver, head of development at Dexus, twice and both times this has been his gleeful opening line. 1 Bligh is his pride and joy. He loves it for its greenness, its elegance, its prestige and its subversion, not necessarily in that order.

As it happens I do know how many rules it breaks, since as a Councillor, back in the last millennium, I helped frame them.



One thing you learn as a City Councillor is that architects always believe the rules, even the good ones, shouldn't apply to them. They're special. Their site is different. Their building is worth it. In this case, it may even be true.It doesn't break height rules, although actually it would be prettier if it did, if it were twice as high. (I've always though this about Piano's Aurora, too). The main rule 1 Bligh breaks is the street-podium rule, that establishes a build-to line in order to sustain precisely the kind of warm, active, nice-to-be-near streets that 1 Bligh enjoys looking out over.


Most buildings tagged 'intelligent' turn out to have the IQ of wilted broccoli, and personality to match. But 1 Bligh is different. For a start, the real air and ultra-clear glass give a sense of genuine environmental connectivity that is almost unheard-of in a commercial tower.


Skyscrapers are always about power, but 1 Bligh offers a slightly different, 21st century take on this 20th century paradigm, acknowledging that power is never outright, but always a balance; that the oppressor is always oppressed; and that long-term survival requires our investment in the enlightened form of self interest.


Where the classic last-century skyscraper focused on dominating and perfecting nature (guzzling energy and water in order to protect ourselves from her whims) 1 Bligh takes a more collaborative approach; real air, chilled beams, solar panels, water recycling, sewage mining, trigen.


It's worth checking out the downtown skyscraper collection, if only to see how the feel betrays the architect's background. There's a definite Euro-feel commonality between Aurora and 1 Bligh, both of them emphasising openness, inside-outside continuity, real materials, fresh air and a down-dressing of the space. Compare this with the stiff-upper-lip rigidity of Foster's Deutschebank and the funereal self-importance of Eugene Kohn's Chifley.


Perhaps it's not nationality, so much as a progression (we wish) towards a time when office buildings don't make you feel plastinated after twenty minutes breathing their air. Perhaps Julia Gillard was right to say, in opening 1 Bligh, "Australians who think the carbon tax is asking them to live without the creature comforts should come and look at this building."

 


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

copyright - elizabeth m farrelly

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