OMA, Hassell and Populous to redevelop
Sydney's Darling Harbour


News: a team made up of architecture firms OMA, Hassell and Populous has been selected to redevelop Sydney's convention, exhibition and entertainment precinct at Darling Harbour (+ slideshow).

Darling Harbour, Sydney, by OMA, Populous and Hassell

Above: International Convention Centre

The Destination Sydney team, lead by developers Lend Lease, were today announced as the winning bidders with their plans to create a 40,000-square-metre exhibition centre, a red-carpet entertainment venue, a 900-room hotel and a new residential neighbourhood.

Dutch architects OMA will work alongside Hassell of Sydney, international firm Populous and Australian architects Denton Corker Marshall to deliver the 20-hectare masterplan, adding the new leisure complex to the north of Pier Street and new residential neighbourhood The Haymarket on the site of the existing Sydney Entertainment Centre and car park.

Darling Harbour, Sydney, by OMA, Populous and Hassell

Above: the theatre

"This project will redefine Sydney as a global city and create one of the world’s great meeting and entertainment destinations," commented Destination Sydney's chief executive Malcolm Macintyre. "Not only will it become a beacon for international visitors for conventions and events but will also build on the appeal of the Darling Harbour area for Sydney-siders creating an entertainment hub that promises to reconnect and re-energise the city."

A phased redevelopment will see the existing Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre close in December 2013, while the current Sydney Entertainment Centre will remain open until December 2015. Construction is set to complete in late 2016.

Darling Harbour, Sydney, by OMA, Populous and Hassell

Above: The Haymarket neighbourhood by Denton Corker Marshall

Darling Harbour sit adjacent to Sydney's city centre and has established itself as a centre for entertainment on the western edge of the central business district. Other recent developments in the area include an office complex that was awarded at the World Architecture Festival.

OMA have completed a number of projects over the last year, including the China Central Television Headquarters in Beijing and the headquarters of the Rothschild Bank in London.

See all our stories about OMA »

  • repressed

    Rem siding with the Oz bandits makes delirious dreams.

  • eric

    Convention centre volume looks cool.

  • Endofarchitecture

    Uh oh. These guys are really pissing off a legendary Sydney architect, big time, by razing his work to the ground. Two legendary architects, in fact. One is a brutalist-era building and another is a steel, concrete and glass building, both of which are exemplary works of architecture in concrete and steel. Quite unfortunately, these buildings have been badly neglected by both the end users and general public over the years, to the point that they look hopelessly dated. What is most ironic about all this is that the POS Darling Harbour mall, which is one of the worst and saddest retail malls on planet earth (and Sydney’s laughing stock), miraculously received a reprieve from execution! That mall is an utter and epic failure, and should have been the first building to be demolished!

    • Clud

      Whats wrong with the mall? I’m not from Sydney, but I go to that mall a lot when I visit Sydney. It’s a nice place to go for a quick fast-food bite. Is it very quiet by Sydney standards?

      • RiconA

        Have you seen how terrible and hopelessly dated Sydney malls are compared to the rest of the world? With one exception: the new Westfield in the CBD, which is a slight improvement.

        If a tourist’s first destination in Sydney is the Darling Harbour mall, one would think that he’s just landed in a third world country! The Darling Harbour mall is for tourists, but which well-traveled tourist would really want to shop in a low-rent mall like that?

        Are you kidding me? That mall doesn’t attract famous, world class retailers. It is a tourist trap that sells overpriced souvenirs and bland merchandise. Look around you, Sydney! The world’s global cities have changed so much; yet you’re still in your own cocooned world, utterly oblivious to global trends, style and competition.

    • SydneyCitizen

      These pieces are architecture are not that good. Nothing in Darling Harbour is even average architecture, that is capable of long term evolution and adaptation, which is the mark of a good piece of architecture and urbanism. They are set pieces that have a set life. The architects have big names, but produce, on the whole really average to poor architecture. Only an Architect could like Cox’s work, we the public think he is a big ego, and his designs do nothing for the city.

  • Sean

    Just what Sydney needs: another bland mess.

    • Aaron

      Sadly, I have to agree. This is completely ordinary. And can’t they please also knock down Harbourside?

  • John

    Why don’t we change the name of the East Darling Harbour Precinct to Lend Lease-ville?

    • Endofarchitecture

      Lend Lease-ville is actually a U-shaped mega-precint snaking its way south from Barangaroo, down to Darling Harbour and up again until the Pyrmont headland on Refinery Drive. With such unprecedented power and authority given to a single developer, their stuff better be damn $#% good, or Sydney architecture is all over!

      • John

        Elephant in the room: Sydney suffers from continually releasing these huge plots to single developers. The results are generally fuelled by one concern – MONEY. While the bureaucrats fight for their piece of the pie the people of Sydney suffer. We are destined to have no sense of place or diversity here – the people of Sydney are ants fuelling the economic machine.

  • P Rider

    I agree that giving all that power to one lease-holder means a distaster for Sydney’s beautiful harbourside. The Pyrmont area has been nothing but a disaster for decades, nothing but a theme park for sad tourists to wander about in with no merit to any of the buildings, whereas it could have rivalled Circular Quay, with the Bridge and Opera house.

    Koolhaus? OMA lost it with the China TV build: it didn’t open on time and looks so awkward in the crowded space it exists in. Now these blocks of buildings in Sydney will landfill an area that should – at best – be open space, especially as they appear to be only filling it with blocks of glazed squares? Sydney council is in the pocket of Land Lease indeed.

  • SydneyCitizen

    The new Darling Harbour precinct looks like it was a sketch design that was rejected by either a Chinese or Emirati client, and thrown in the bin. When challenged by these clients to come up with something better, and many attempts later, we got the CCTV centre. Then along comes Hassell eager for something OMA, and instead of going to the draw with new concepts, they find the reject drawers, and pull out what we have now. Sadly this is not Eero Saarinen, pulling out Utzon’s Opera House design.

    This is incredibly boring and unsustainable architecture and urbanism that is very 1990s. Sydney deserves something far more exciting and innovative than this. It is clearly designed to maximise Lend Lease’s profit and make the weird easy to build for even more profit, whilst looking expensive.

    Another classic Sydney moment of terrible architecture and urbanism, another opportunity lost.

  • NotAnArchitect

    Who votes for this rubbish? Surely it should be a public poll to decide what we have to look at?

  • 00syss

    It is done by the HK office, right? Such an awful project, heard that place is a strange hierarchical environment. The works reflect its office culture, which is not the same as the original OMA legacy with open and innovative minds.

  • cat

    What on earth is going on here? I’m obviously late in the loop but I haven’t lived in Sydney since 2005. I don’t think I could go back to my old boss P. Cox. Sorry to see your work that was a testimony to progression gone.