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97/190/4-1 Architectural model, Capita Centre/9 Castlereagh Street, timber/paper/plastic, designed by Harry Seidler and Associates, made by Arcmod Models Pty Ltd, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1984. Click to enlarge.

Architectural model, Capita Centre/9 Castlereagh Street, timber/paper/plastic, designed by Harry Seidler and Associates, made by Arcmod Models Pty Ltd, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1984

Made 1984
The Capita Centre (now known as 9 Castlereagh Street) is one of Harry Seidler's most innovative designs.

Seidler was initially reluctant to accept the commission for this project, deterred by a tight site with existing buildings on three sides. Seidler's previous designs for tall office towers had generally added street-level pedestrian space to the public domain, apparently impossible in this case. As well as restricting public access, the Castlereagh Street site restricted potential aspect to light and views.

Seidler's design response was to create a 'hollowed out' tower with an external structure and building core, permitting a tall atrium running the height of the building and introducing light to its thirty four levels. This concept also permits an open plaza space within the tower's footprint. The accessbility of the plaza/open foyer is heightened by its garden character, while elevated gardens are located at levels twelves and sixteen of the atrium.

The Capita's Centre's external framework and towering atrium are a dazzling demonstration of Seidler's gift for visual marriage of structure, function and form. It also demonstrated that towers could be accommodated to city street life even when surrounding open space was stymied by regulation or situation.

In 2011/2012 Stockland, new owners of the building, retained Harry Seidler & Associates to refurbish the ground floor space. This work involved the removal of the foyer fig trees; only a comparitively small grove of ash trees remian. However the tiled mural designed by Lin Utzon is more prominent and the space is generally more visually accessible to Castlereagh Street.

Charles Pickett. Curator, Design and built environment.

Summary

Object No.

97/190/4-1

Object Statement

Architectural model, Capita Centre/9 Castlereagh Street, timber/paper/plastic, designed by Harry Seidler and Associates, made by Arcmod Models Pty Ltd, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1984

Physical Description

Model of Capita Centre located within its tight city site, with surrounding buildings notionally described and perspex cover.

Dimensions

Height

1075 mm

Width

570 mm

Production

Made

1984

Notes

Designed by Harry Seidler and Associates 1984-1989. Model by Bob Brown of Arcmod Models Pty Ltd, Winston Hills, Sydney

To generate its own source of daylight and outlook, the building is hollowed out for its full height by an open-air atrium which changes its position from the south side to the centre and stepping up to the north. All offices overlook one of the atrium spaces, which are landscaped with large trees. The ground floor is a pedestrian thoroughfare and landscaped with high palms. A distinguishing feature to the facade is the exposed vertical truss brace-frame placed supporting a 30m-high retractable flagpole.

From 'Harry Seidler' by Kenneth Frampton and Philip Drew, Thames and Hudson, 1992.

Harry Seidler (1923-2006) was born in Vienna and fled Nazism via England, Canada and the USA where at Harvard University he was a student of Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. Seidler visited Sydney in 1948 to design a home for his parents. His intended return to the USA was halted by numerous requests to design houses similar to Rose Seidler house.

Seidler was one of a generation of new arrivals who internationalised an Anglophile outpost. Another was Dutch engineer Dick Dusseldorp who engaged Seidler to design numerous projects for his Lend Lease construction company. Among these were sophisticated but affordable apartment blocks which lent glamour and liveability to inner city living. Others included major urban redevelopments designed around office towers; Australian Square was the first of these. Seidler also found success internationally, his Australian Embassy in Paris the best-known of several off-shore commissions.

No architect has had a greater impact on Sydney through both his own work and its influence on others. Although Harry Seidler's Modernism was shaped by Europe and the US, Sydney also formed his work and his social presence. Often caricatured as a doctrinaire modernist, Seidler tailored most of his work to Sydney's climate and topography. Some of his best buildings – Blues Point Tower, Australia Square to name but two - were also his most controversial. As a polemicist, Seidler was less compromising but Sydney's urban culture benefited from his scorn of the second-rate in design and decision-making. His donation of this model, among others, was typical of his generosity to the Powerhouse and the arts community.

In addition to numerous awards received locally, such as the Royal Australian Institute of Architects Gold Medal, in 1996 Seidler was the recipient of the Royal Institute of British Architects Gold Medal.

Charles Pickett, Curator Design and built environment.

Cite this Object

Harvard

Architectural model, Capita Centre/9 Castlereagh Street, timber/paper/plastic, designed by Harry Seidler and Associates, made by Arcmod Models Pty Ltd, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1984 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 14 August 2020, <https://ma.as/156730>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/156730 |title=Architectural model, Capita Centre/9 Castlereagh Street, timber/paper/plastic, designed by Harry Seidler and Associates, made by Arcmod Models Pty Ltd, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1984 |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=14 August 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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