News / December 2014
Tuesday 16 December 2014
Landscape architecture award for China’s national geopark

HASSELL is the recipient of a Silver Award from the Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architects for the Fangshan Tangshan National Geopark Museum Public Realm.

The Fangshan Tangshan National Geopark, located 40 kilometres east of Nanjing, is home to China’s new Great Relic Museum. It is also the site of a number of internationally significant archaeological discoveries, including the Hulu Caves – where homo erectus fossils dating back 0.16-0.60 million years were discovered in 1993 – as well as an ancient quarry exhibiting geological formations of the Paleozoic era.

HASSELL designed the museum's gateway plaza and surrounding parkland connections for the Nanjing Tangshan Construction Investment and Development Company following an international landscape design competition. Landscape architects and urban designers from the Shanghai and London studios collaborated on the initial competition concept, which featured gardens inspired by the environmental characteristics of each period of the Paleozoic era.

HASSELL was later engaged to develop the detailed design for the new 15 hectare cultural tourism destination.

"Our response helped our client achieve their vision of creating a truly remarkable destination for visitors to the region that is integrated with wider parkland and transport infrastructure,” said Andrew Wilkinson, HASSELL Regional Manager for Greater China.

“It celebrates the plaza's gateway status, the museum's architectural form, and the geopark's many extraordinary features while supporting the local natural environment through the regeneration of native vegetation and water sensitive design. Visitors are taken on a journey through the site that reveals its history and formation along the way."

The museum plaza was recently completed to coincide with the opening of the museum. Construction of the wider parklands is scheduled for completion in 2015.

Tuesday 9 December 2014
New era for Sydney’s Flour Mill

For 120 years the landmark concrete flour mill silos have stood over Summer Hill in the inner west of Sydney. They’re now set to be transformed into contemporary apartments as the focal point of a new master planned residential community that will contribute to the ongoing revitalisation of Summer Hill.

The HASSELL design for the Flour Mills at Summer Hill opens up the former industrial site to incorporate new social and recreation spaces, amid 300 contemporary apartments and terraces, a new retail precinct and a light rail station.

A mixture of adaptive reuse and heritage focused new construction will transform the brownfield site into 300 apartments and a mix of public and commercial space. HASSELL worked with EG Funds to connect the site with the surrounding neighbourhoods and link the disused site into the community for the first time.

Incorporating modern apartments into the visually striking grain silos at the heart of the precinct presented a particular design challenge. But the proof of the successful design was in the end result, with the rounded silos becoming the fastest selling portion of the development. Almost 90 per cent of the 127 apartments sold off-plan at the sales launch on Saturday 6 December.

"The Flour Mills at Summer Hill exemplifies the process of urban renewal in cities,” said HASSELL Principal Matthew Pullinger.

“With the relocation of the flour mill to the city fringe, we’ve inherited a very strategically located, valuable piece of land that can contribute to the efficient functioning of the city in new ways.

“In this instance, it's mixed use, it's highly connected, predominantly residential, but supported by a number of complementary retail and commercial uses.

“The level of interest from purchasers – and the high proportion of owner-occupiers – reinforces the public’s appetite for living in a place that feels real, authentic and part of a community within the heart of an inner urban area.”

Matthew said the project fell right in the ‘sweet spot’ for HASSELL, drawing together architects, landscape architects, interior designers and urban designers to deliver a truly integrated design solution for the site.

“The project has a great blend of old and new, it has aspects that bring together all the areas we're interested in to create a really beautiful place to live and work. That was the most exciting dimension of the whole project, seeing the true power of collaboration,” said Matthew.  

Watch this video to see Matthew Pullinger talking about how the Flour Mills at Summer Hill breathes life back into the city.

Flour Mills at Summer Hill, Sydney, Australia
Flour Mills at Summer Hill, Sydney, Australia
Friday 5 December 2014
Urban Futures: Imagining the cities of tomorrow

Shanghai can create more parks and more accommodation for its growing population – without the need for further urban sprawl - by being smarter about how it uses its available space and designs its apartment buildings.

New research undertaken by HASSELL looked at the distribution of a typical cluster of 6 to 8-storey Xincun apartment blocks within the city’s middle ring and reconfigured the layout to achieve more green space and accommodation within the same footprint.

By removing 5 per cent of existing building stock within a typical neighbourhood, the HASSELL design was able to create room for 10 new local parks – all within a 5-8 minute walk of surrounding residents – and 20 new residential towers at the park edges.

David Tickle, Head of Urban Design at HASSELL, said that increased urban density could enhance Shanghai’s future standard of living and support the strategic planning directions of the Shanghai city government.

“Like other major cities, Shanghai is experiencing persistent population growth, and we need to start looking at how we accommodate the growing urban populace without having to resort to spreading at the outskirts and encroaching on valuable farm land,” David said.

“The key is to stop taking a ‘cookie-cutter’ approach to residential apartments, and start applying smarter design that works to site conditions to maximise the use of available space while keeping the amenity for residents foremost in mind.”

The Urban Housing Challenge study also looked at residential buildings in Sydney and will be expanded to consider London’s row houses. Applying a similar process, HASSELL found it could improve the amount of green space and personal living space available by reconfiguring the footprint of Sydney’s inner suburban walk-up apartments.

“HASSELL operates in each of these cities, which has allowed us to understand and respond to their unique needs and conditions, and to provide an original and compelling vision for their future,” said David.

This research comprises the first stage of the HASSELL Urban Futures initiative, a knowledge and research program due to be launched in early 2015 focusing on urbanisation and urban design. Future studies will look at new models for mixed use and retail precincts, urban schools and public spaces.

HASSELL presented the Urban Housing Challenge findings to some of China’s leading urban thinkers in the Shanghai studio in November. HASSELL designers from London, Sydney and Shanghai explored the future of cities, the challenges facing urban centres and the innovative approaches to help unlock their economic, social and cultural potential.

London-based Principal Julian Gitsham explored how the visions of science fiction films have been translated into contemporary cities, while Senior Associate Richard Mullane, based in Shanghai, outlined how monumental shifts in the Chinese context are changing the way we design cities. David Tickle shared urban density insights from the research.

“Living in a high rise does not inevitably mean compromising on important considerations like a sense of community and access to parks and outdoor space,” David said.

“In fact, these fundamentals will become more important as the population grows, so now is the time to start thinking about how to better design and redevelop our cities and suburbs for future sustainability.”

Shenzhen Affodable Housing Design Competition
Shenzhen Affodable Housing Design Competition
Shenzhen Affodable Housing Design Competition
Monday 1 December 2014
Breaking the rules of art on display

By pushing the boundaries of traditional art display, HASSELL has helped the Art Gallery of South Australia secure some of its most significant international exhibitions in recent years, including Turner from the Tate and this summer’s blockbuster exhibition, Fashion Icons: Masterpieces from the collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris 

Since completing the Art Gallery’s vestibule and refurbishing its historic Elder Wing in 2011, HASSELL has worked with the gallery’s curatorial team to transform the display of works at one of Australia’s most established art institutions.

The Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia, Nick Mitzevich, said the design perspective and commercial insight brought by HASSELL had delivered great value to the gallery.

“With every exhibit, we have a series of very complex works to put on display. We've got a visitor experience that we want to enhance. We've got commercial imperatives that we want to deliver. And I think the collective experience that HASSELL brings to us means that we can really move ahead on all of those fronts and generally deliver quite an exceptional result,” said Nick.

“We had no hesitation to work with HASSELL on designing Turner from the Tate. We wanted to raise the bar, and that exhibition was the most ambitious we'd ever staged to date.

“I think when you display art, there is a set of rules and you need to know those rules. But for you to be ultimately successful, you need to be able to break them and to take art and the visitor experience to another level.”

Raquel Dean, HASSELL Associate, said working with the Gallery and Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris to deliver the Fashion Icons exhibit was particularly exciting.

"The team from the Musee des Arts was keen to experiment with the space at the Art Gallery of South Australia, particularly as it was coming from the Louvre, which is extremely specific about how art is displayed,” said Raquel.

“While they and exhibition designer Christian Biecher had extremely clear expectations around how the exhibit should be put together, our intimate understanding of the gallery space ensured a seamless visitor experience was created.”

Fashion Icons: Masterpieces from the collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris runs until 15 February 2015 at the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Fashion Icons: Masterpieces from the collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris
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