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Frank Ghery’s Paper Bag – Do Not Adjust Your Eyes

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 curved and folded building at UTS, Sydney

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.

Frank Ghery's curved and folded building at UTS, Sydney

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.

Closeup of bricks on Frank Ghery's curved and folded building at UTS, 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 Goods Line, a reclaimed railway that has now been pedstrianised in Ultimo, Sydney

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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8 comments… add one
  • Glenda May 28, 2016, 3:11 pm

    Hi Fiona. You have piqued my interest. I think I will check it out next time I am in Sydney. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Tandy | Lavender and Lime May 28, 2016, 3:16 pm

    I shall have to take this walk when I visit Fiona 😀

    • Fiona Ryan May 31, 2016, 11:50 am

      Yes, please do. You will enjoy it and it doesn’t take much time out of an action packed schedule.

  • Elizabeth May 31, 2016, 4:41 pm

    It is truly amazing… I do miss Sydney and its amazing architecture 🙂
    I hope you are well!

    • Fiona Ryan June 3, 2016, 6:47 pm

      We have lots of great buildings too but this is truly one in a million (as are all of Ghery’s buildings). I’m great Liz. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Joy @MyTravelingJoys June 16, 2016, 9:14 pm

    Interesting! I must have been in this area a couple of times during my Sydney visits and somehow missed these cool buildings. Thanks for sharing!

    • Fiona Ryan June 17, 2016, 11:24 am

      Yes – they are tucked away but only a block back from George St and Central.

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