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Brett Whiteley Place
Urbanstone Austral Juperana & Australian Granite Pavers
The new development is named for the late artist, whose Walker Street residence in Lavender Bay still stands as a heritage-listed arts and crafts studio surrounded by the iconic grounds that make up Wendy Whitely’s Secret Garden.
To honour the late artist, and the incredible body of work he produced during his tenure in Lavender Bay, the North Sydney council sought to pay homage to Whiteley’s artistic practice through the installation and reinvigoration of one of its most central thoroughfares.
Located between Mount Street and the adjacent Elizabeth Plaza, the Brett Whiteley Place upgrade was spearheaded by landscape architecture and urban design firm Oculus, whose close consultation with North Sydney Council involved significant re-grading and the creation of a new and exciting public space.
The design was conceptualised and inspired by Brett Whiteley’s calligraphic artworks. Tracing a sinuous line throughout and defining the layout of urban interventions, a series of curved built-in concrete terraced spaces are carved out of the landscape with an undulating grace that provides the perfect spot to sit and reflect or enjoy your lunch while taking some time away from the urban environment.
Tiered levels, separated by stacked stairways in the centre and wrapped in accessible paving at both sides, cascade down to an events area at the lowest level. At each level, the pre-existing Robert Woodward-designed water features have been refurbished, relocated and integrated into the design, forming a centrepiece for each gathering space. Topped with a sculptural screen that acts as a division, both visually and physically, from the busy Pacific Highway and enhances the existing station entry, the space is topped and tailed in a way that provides both additional seating and a sanctuary-like feel from its surroundings.
Australian Granite pavers in Austral Juperana from UrbanStone adorn the area, crafting a textured and detailed response to the urban environment that is both grounding and decorative. The rich colourway is an expression of deep ochres and rich browns and acts as a transformative base through which the space can come alive and stand out from the buildings to either side.
Finally, decorative lighting is cleverly concealed within the seating arrangements, as well as throughout the space, with feature architectural inground LED lighting welcoming evening visitors and providing a safe, inviting environment come nightfall.
The redevelopment of the plaza has created an iconic destination for workers, residents and visitors and has become a centrepiece for public art within North Sydney.