I was in Sydney last weekend for a little bit of R&R before attending a conference. There was plenty of eating and drinking but also a lot of walking. Though I visit Sydney regularly and know it very well, I constantly need to remind myself how big the CBD is and how far it stretches. Anyone who has visited Sydney will know that Central Station is in no way central. But, it is very close to the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and Frank’s ‘Paper Bag’.
Frank Ghery’s Paper Bag is in fact the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building at the UTS Business School but it doesn’t quite have same ring to it. It’s named after the magnificent philanthropist who donated $20 million to the project, Dr Chau Chak Wing. ‘Paper Bag’ rolls off the tongue a lot more readily and it’s obvious on approach from any angle, why the building has received this nickname. Frank Ghery certainly has an imagination.
It really doesn’t matter where you stand, there is something to wonder at. Sharp lines, curved lines, reflections and gravity defying architecture. This building has it all. It contains 320 000 custom designed bricks which were no doubt a huge headache for the masons who were following Gehry’s plan. The building is actually designed to represent the folds in skin or clothing, rather than a paper bag, and the bricks are a nod to the famous Sydney sandstone. It’s the first time Frank Gehry has created a building in Australia. And it is a creation – how could it be anything else? The building sits alongside the portfolio of instantly recognisable Frank Ghery buildings around the world. Bilbao, Prague and now Sydney.
It’s best viewed from afar so that you can take in the full splendour of the uneven folds and curves. My photos don’t do the scale justice so the next time I am in Sydney, I will go back to get a shot from further afield. It’s certainly impossible not to keep taking photos as you wander around it. When you are up close, there is something very Guadi-esque about the way the building leans onto itself. Whilst part of the UTS campus, the general public are welcome to explore the public spaces inside the building. Huge chunks of skewed wood and topsy-turvy mirroring means it is just as unique on the inside. I also counted four coffee shops and countless lounge spaces. Those lucky students!
The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building adjoins the reclaimed Goods Line, now a ‘NYC High Line’ style pedestrian walkway that takes you from Central through to Pyrmont. You can easily while away an hour here, admiring the interior, exterior and surrounds. Make sure you include it in your next visit to Sydney.
Dr Chau Chak Wing Building
14-28 Ultimo Rd (1 block down from George St)
Ultimo NSW 2007
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