Parkline Place design inspiration – a tale about three’s

3 Oct 2023

Parkline Place is designed by internationally renowned architects, Foster & Partners. Read part 2 of our interview with Muir Livingstone where he explains the design response that culminated in a tale about “three’s”.


Q) Describe your design vision and/or key design moves?

Our design responses are always primarily driven by the site’s wider context. Parkline Place is located at a meeting point of three ‘special character zones,’ identified by the City of Sydney. They each have specific requirements, which we have responded to through our design:

1.Hyde Park

To reinforce Hyde Park as the major gateway to the city from the east, maintain a sense of enclosure to the park by limiting height and building to street alignments, while protecting winter sun access to Hyde Park.

2.Pitt Street Mall

To recognise and enhance Pitt Street as a key element of the CBD’s retail core.

3.Town Hall Precinct

The character of new buildings should complement civic buildings, with regard to façade composition, materials, colour and texture.

Working with these requirements - and the needs of the station below - we developed a step-by-step approach to the massing:

Firstly, Follow the requirements of the solar access plane

In block massing terms, the solar access plane (that ensures the sun falls on Hyde Park) dictates a smaller, taller block to the north portion and a wider, lower block running parallel with Park Street.

Then, Station as centreline

We used the location of the station entrance on Park Street as a cue to divide the podium and tower block forms into two, asymmetrically.

Next, Orientate the tower facades

Using this notional line as a ‘hinge,’ we pulled back the line of the tower façade on either side to orientate the façade to the future Town Hall Square (to the west) and Hyde Park (to the east). The tower forms was softened further by rounding the corners. The podium block maintains the Part Street alignment but also adopts the rounded corners approach.

Then, Break the massing

We inscribed a deep line in the podium and tower facades at the location of the station, articulating the tower into three distinct elements. This move allows daylight penetration into the heart of the station concourse.

And last but not least, Articulate the roof

Working within the sun access plane ceiling, the three tower blocks can be pushed and pulled as a further massing and articulation refinement.


All of this culminated in the tripartite composition of the scheme:

Three Streets

Three Elevations

Three Views

Three Towers


Q) What other buildings/benchmarks have you referenced in designing Parkline Place?

When designing Parkline Place, we referred to our Bloomberg European HQ project in London. The building is respectful of its location in the heart of the City of London, close to the Bank of England, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the church of St. Stephen’s Walbrook.

In its form, massing and materials, the new buildings are uniquely of their place and time – a natural extension of their City that will endure and improve the surrounding public realm.


Q) On a personal note, what are your top 3 commercial buildings globally and why?

Deutsche Bank Place in Sydney was the practice’s first building in Australia – and the Southern Hemisphere. This was the project that I first moved to Sydney to work on and where our office is located today. I love the ‘diagram’ of the building – the offset core and the clean, column free floorplate. The views from my desk are pretty special too.

I first came across the Johnson Wax Building by Frank Lloyd Wright when I was a student at architecture school. It was a revolutionary and futuristic approach to the traditional office, featuring an open plan workspace - the type that is common today - but I think it is the organic form of the structure and the lighting of the space from above that sets it apart.

Foster + Partners’ European HQ for Bloomberg is a project that we referenced when starting work on Parkline Place. It is a bespoke headquarters, tailored to the company’s needs, There are also many innovative areas that are applicable to a more conventional speculative office building – the creation of spaces that promote casual interactions, the integration of artwork, the creation of deep-plan floorplates with ‘cores’ at the perimeter.


Q) What are the top 3-5 aspects of The Parkline Place design you would point out to a visitor?

The project is an Integrated Station Development and hardwired into the critical infrastructure of Sydney. A building in a well-connected location, over a metro station – this is one of the most impactful sustainability moves you can make as an architect.

The project is very much of its place and a direct response to its surrounding environment. It is also a culmination of many decades of Foster + Partners’ work on the office tower typology. 

Parkline Place is crafted and bespoke. From the unique façade to the end grain flooring in the sky lobby, and the carefully considered ‘fifth elevation’ of the roof plane, the design is driven by an attention to detail.


Did you read Part 1 of Muir’s interview? Check it out here.


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