Architecture Images-Sydney Architects
|Images copyright of architect.
01- Canberra Playhouse Theater, Photo: Patrick Bingham Hall
02- Fox Studios Car Park, Photo: Patrick Bingham Hall
03- National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), Photo: Patrick Bingham Hall
04- North Sydney Olympic Pool, Photo: Patrick Bingham Hall
05- Westpac Place Headquarters Fit-out, Sydney, Photo: Tyrone Branigan
Images: Australian Institute of Architects
|Ken Maher of Hassell- Shaper of things
Louis White, The Australian February 26, 2011
Ken Maher, part of the design team for the $6 billion Barangaroo urban regeneration in Sydney.
Picture: Jane Dempster Source: The Australian
IT’S appropriate that Ken Maher was born in a town halfway between Sydney and Brisbane.
On the banks of the NambuccaRiver, Macksville – population 3000 – is a town where children need to use their imagination to entertain themselves. It stood Maher in good stead to become one of Australia’s leading architects, unrestricted by traditional city landscapes.
The way cities are built is the one thing Maher wants to change, and feels needs to change.
“Buildings in the past have been built as sealed boxes that you pump cold air into,” Maher says.
“In the 19th century you basically had big buildings and houses, with nothing in between. In the 20th century we saw specialists in the design of buildings accentuating the difference between apartment, office and warehouse buildings, for example.
“Now going forward we will see less specialist building types and more buildings that can be adapted to climate issues, occupancy requirements combined with a change in the production of buildings.”
Maher says technology will change the fabric of buildings, especially in high-growth population countries.
Sekisui Wentworth point
Japanese company Sekisui House, the largest builder of prefabricated sustainable housing, has made inroads into the Australian market, he notes.
“When we think of prefabricated houses we think of container boxes and cheap, nasty concrete factories, but that is all going to change mostly through digital technology,” Maher says. “The future will see very different designs and materials used for buildings and houses.”
Maher, the Australian Institute of Architects’ 2009 gold medallist, was instrumental in the design of one of Australia’s most sustainable buildings, the ANZ Centre.
ANZ’s new headquarters at 833 Collins St in Melbourne’s Docklands precinct is the largest, greenest commercial office building in the country.
The building has a top six-star Green Star Office Design rating from the Green Building Council and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70 per cent, the equivalent to taking 2000 cars off the road every year.
Water consumption will be 60 per cent less than the industry average. A green roof and exterior sun shading not only maximise daylight but reduce heat gain and loss.
“When you start on a project you never know where it is going to end,” Maher says.
“With the ANZ building we thought it important to make a shift in the thinking of how people work together. We wanted the ground floor to be place where everyone could come together to promote a feel-good meeting space.”
The building has the equivalent of 80 storeys flattened out into 10, with no staff member sitting more than 11m from natural light.
“We need to think how design can be used as a positive force in the cities,” Maher says.
“By making changes to commercial buildings it can lead to better outcomes for the city and that means everyone, including the workers, the travellers and the people who live there.”
In the 1950s and 60s people lived in suburbia and came to the cities for work, Maher says, but society has changed and people now live in and around central business districts. “So we need to adapt,” Maher says.
He cites his upbringing in the country as being influential on his designs.
“Growing up every day looking at the landscape had its impact,” he says. “As far back as I can remember I was always drawing. People around me made the connection between drawing and architecture, though I personally didn’t know any architects.”
Maher went to the University of NSW, where he studied for a bachelor of architecture, graduated with first-class honours and completed his masters degree a few years later.
Before and during his studies he worked at the NSW Department of Works on a cadetship before entering the world of private enterprise with a firm by the name of Nielsen Warren and Mark Windass Architects, whose name soon changed to Warren Windass Associates.
After a short stint travelling overseas Maher returned to Australia to take over the partnership and renamed it the Quay Partnership in 1979 until 1985, when he formed Ken Maher and Partners, which led to the creation of Hassell in 1993, of which he is chairman today.
“I am very project driven,” Maher says. “I like projects that make places. That is very stimulating and I get very excited by a new project. The whole creative process gets me up in the morning.”
Maher is very proud of the Olympic Park Rail Station in Sydney, which won the Australian Institute of Architects’ Sir John Sulman Award in 1998. (He won the same award for the National Institute of Dramatic Art building in Sydney’s Kensington in 2002.)
“When we were building the Olympic Park I was influenced by Grand Central Station in New York,” he says. “I wanted to feel as though they were meeting somewhere exciting and where a whole story came together.”
Maher has also been heavily influenced by his landscape design and environmental studies.
He was a founding member of the Green Building Council of Australia and a member of the technical steering committee that developed the Green Star rating tools for the building industry.
“My landscape design and environmental studies broadened my view and pushed me to work on bigger projects,” he says.
“I am now influenced by climate change, the ethos of our cities and providing a better building, for the individual, company and the climate.”
Maher’s greatest challenge lies ahead as he is part of the design team for the $6 billion Barangaroo urban regeneration on the fringe of Sydney’s central business district.
“Any development in Sydney is controversial whereas in Melbourne they just get on with it,” he says in response to the ongoing debate over the project. “I think a lot of the debate has been over the size of the buildings and not the real issues.
“We desperately need a new way of accommodating people in the cities in terms of occupancy and design, and Barangaroo offers that opportunity.
“Obviously it has to relate to the rest of the city but we have a fantastic under-utilised waterfront and Barangaroo will provide another new experience and I think it will be a really interesting place.
“We sometimes hang on to the old for the sake of hanging on to the old. If we didn’t have the Opera House, it wouldn’t have allowed us to do many other things in this city.”
Editor- it helps that this guy is really well connected with the Council…