Sydney’s Frameless Cantilevered Apartments

In Sydney, apartment building are often about the balconies. The balcony is the pattern stuck to the facade; it gives the facade interest you see. Concrete folds and contorts and is stuck to the slab, painted {usually white but can be in bright primaries if it is to be a feature balcony} and then photographed. If you have a view of water then the balcony is made of glass; frameless and cantilevered if you can afford it and with chunky patch fitting if you cannot. It is a system that works quite well,

As far as I am concerned the balcony as decorative device reached its nadir in Sydney with Seidler’s Horizon buidling in Darlinghurst. Baroque, ephemeral and useless at the higher floors. Sublime.

Playing ridiculous to Seidler’s sublime are ARM whose apartment/commercial development at King Street Wharf is about five years late with its little one-liner. To be fair, the winning entrant in an invited competition, the development at King Street Wharf is not just one one-liner but about five or six. A little joke for each facade. A kind of shopping mall mentality where a bog standard, commercially cynical floorplate has a bit of decoration tacked to the exterior to keep the punters and the easily fooled happy.

Of course, the joke gathering the most attention is the north facade where the balconies are cutout to represent the Max Dupain photo, Bondi. The delight of this photograph is not that it shows two majestic bronzed bathers at Bondi, it is that one of them is pulling their togs out from her arse crack.

ARM ignore this detail in their interpretation mistaking the photo as another postcard image of the bronzed Aussie. They miss the humour that lies in the scene and when you are attempting a joke -facade that is a fairly critical aspect to pass over.

The fact is, without the detail of the wedgie, it is just another photo of some attractive folk on the beach. This may a novelty in Melbourne, sure, but in its immediate context the image of two people at the beach seems to be stating the obvious. If I want to see some attractive folk in their speedos I am more likely to go to Bondi than Darling Harbour. We don’t need images of people at the beach, we have the real thing.

It is hard not to see the whole gambit as bait from the Melbourne architects. A delicious morsel {wriggling perhaps? yes, wriggling} at the end of an eight pound line. A weightless little idea ready to snag the unsuspecting jury and one that will result in a building in the near future.

I wonder if it is going to be laugh-out-loud-funny or more the smirk-knowingly funny. Let’s just hope they get to take their photos before the site next door gets sold off by Bob Carr and the this precious north facade is blocked by the inevitable office building across the road…