The Exchange by Kengo Kuma and Associates


This is a “wooden community center” located in Darling Harbour in the center of Sydney’s downtown district. The objective for this community center was to create a soft and warm low-rise structure integrated with the square, in contrast to the group of high-rise multi-dwelling buildings in the surrounding area.

Hoods were placed in a random manner on the inside of the glass screens that can be opened in the market on the ground floor in order to blend in with the active street community on a daily basis, and the wooden spiral shaped façade was extended into the square to transform it into a pergola that provides shade in the square.

The upper floors contain a childcare centre, library, restaurants and other functions needed by the community, and each floor plate was shifted so that the view from each floor and the terraced housing differs.

The wooden screen that is comprised of wooden “threads” that are wrapped around the building in an irregular pattern give it a very different expression from the surrounding high-rise buildings.

The bent accoya softwood members are randomly placed so that the panels overlap with each other onsite in a manner that the joints cannot be seen.

This structure resulted in interior space that resembles a silkworm cocoon, and a primitive façade which looks like a bird’s nest, creating an oasis in the middle of an urban jungle. Source by Kengo Kuma and Associates.

  • Location: Sydney, Australia
  • Architect: Kengo Kuma and Associates
  • Project team: Yuki Ikeguchi, Marc Moukarzel, Diego Martin, Mira Yung, Laura Sandoval Illera, Taylor Park
  • Architect of Record: Lendlease
  • Landscape Architect: ASPECT Studios
  • Structural Engineer: Lendlease
  • Façade Engineer: ARUP, F&D Normoyle
  • Façade Optimization: ARMA
  • MEP: Lendlease
  • Builder: Lendlease
  • Area: 6,680 m2
  • Completed: 2019.09
  • Photographs: Martin Mischkulnig, via Kengo Kuma and Associates

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