She has returned several times since then, including last month when she spent most of her visit in self-isolation after testing positive for COVID-19.
But she managed to spend a day there. She said the building’s colors – shades of red and orange that lighten as they reach their full height – were inspired by the colors of Australia’s red earth and its native flowers. The colors of the tiles also lighten as the building moves towards the sun.
Clad in hundreds of red and orange insulated aluminum panels that function as a giant skylight system, the building is designed to have natural ventilation that draws air through the building.
The colors transformed the building into “a magnet in the city”, said Gautrand. They stand out for blocks away, with the colors reflected on the glass facades of conventional office buildings.
Some say the shape of the building resembles the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek or the slope of an Olympic ski jump.
But Gautrand said the building was “sculpted” to follow the path of the sun throughout the day so its interior always had indirect light and avoided direct sunlight.
This resulted in an “unexpected triangular shape, with levels stacked like terraces. This created an amphitheater facing the square which became a sort of stage.
As “the most beautiful building in Paris” – the Center Pompidou – Gautrand dit Phive respected the public square outside.
Pompidou architects Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano chose to build on half the site as they wanted to create a large plaza outside. Piano said the Pompidou was “not a building but a town where you can find everything – a lunch, great art, a library, good music”.
The ground floor of Phive houses an “urban lounge” overlooking the square. The folding doors span an opening of 18 meters so that events can spill over into the square. Its six floors contain Parramatta’s new library, council rooms, community meeting rooms, and a cafe and restaurant.
As they rise, the colors fade, the spaces become smaller, calmer and more serious, and the mix between the public and the citizen changes.
Like the Pompidou, Phive’s exterior is transparent – a nod to its role as both a community center and a council chamber.
Gautrand said it was designed for the public and politicians to cross paths. She described the relationship between the public and their elected officials as “very fragile”.
“I think architecture should help foster a stronger relationship.”
Phive was designed by the French firm of Gautrand in collaboration with the Australian architectural firms DesignInc and Lacoste+Stevens, represented respectively by Richard Does and Thierry Lacoste.
Does, director of DesignInc and director of the project, said the triangular shape meant the building met the city council’s request that the dining room in the square remain sunny in winter.
Does said the public would want to visit the building because it was “quite striking”. On whether it looked like the Starship Enterprise, Does said, “I’m a Trekkie. I do not see it.
The architects had wanted to design a “cheerful and playful facade” to contrast with neighboring commercial buildings such as 6 and 8 Parramatta Square, which are set to become Australia’s largest office spaces.
Borger said the explosion of modern architecture in Parramatta followed years of neglect.
He cited the new Parramatta Powerhouse by architects Moreau Kusunoki and Genton, slated to open in 2024, and the new public high school and horseshoe-shaped elementary school by architects Lahznimmo with Wilson Architects.
The new NAB building at 3 Parramatta Square has a direct view of Phive. Its interior, designed by architects Woods Bagot, features a bright red Escher-like staircase spanning 13 floors. It has been shortlisted for the NSW Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects NSW Architecture Awards 2022.
It blends in nicely with its neighbor Phive, but the choice of color was only coincidental, said Amanda Stanaway, principal architect of Woods Bagot.
“The Red Staircase” had become the motif of Woods Bagot’s collaborations with NAB across Australia.
Stanaway said Phive was bold and empowering. “It’s always good when something isn’t what someone expected. In the same way as the Pompidou, it will create conversation,” she said.
She said she hoped that Phive and the other new architect-designed buildings being constructed would elevate the quality and ideology of architecture in Parramatta.
“It shouldn’t reproduce CBD in my mind,” she said.
Award-winning architects Durbach Block Jaggers are also working on a bankia-inspired ‘meeting place’ next to one of Sydney’s oldest churches and on the site of a traditional Aboriginal meeting place.
Last year the architects won a design competition organized by the United Church’s Parramatta Mission, in conjunction with Parramatta Town Council, for a new building on the site next to the historic Leigh Church Memorial.
Called The Gathering Place, the new building has also been nicknamed the “bankia pod” due to its shape.
In a statement, the architects said the Gathering Place building was a friendly and familiar shape.
“The circular geometry of the new welcomes all, complementing the interior nature of the existing church.”
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