Li Chi Lim
Architecture & High Performance Technology
What would child-friendly hyperdense architecture be like?
It is well known that compared to suburban sprawl, high density urban living can have many sustainability advantages. Yet while urban living is appealing to many families with children, our current stock of hyperdensity and high-rise architecture seems to offer little to this demographic – with the majority accommodating mostly 1 or 2-bedroom apartments, with few of the services and spaces that families need or desire. What’s worse, many empirical studies suggest living in typical tall buildings can be detrimental for children, that their social relations are more impersonal, and they may even have fewer friends than those that reside in low-rise housing. No wonder then, that for many families the detached house on the suburban street remains the dream. This project aims to overcome these concerns through the creation of a child-friendly high-rise. In particular it looks at how hyperdense architecture can foster the most important activity for children – play!
The masterplan is based in central Pyrmont, and consists of a north-facing multi-storey school, with a residential tower behind. An existing light-rail station is sunk beneath the site, in an open canyon, limiting opportunities for play spaces at ground. As such, the project takes inspiration from the concept of a children’s treehouse, and lifts spaces of play, interaction and activity into the sky. In particular, the design reimagines the sterile central corridor seen in most towers, and opens this up into a series of multi-floor play spaces linking all apartments, providing slides, pods and quiet study areas for children. The arrangement of the residential units each side facilitates informal surveillance from parents, and also provides opportunities for cross ventilation of all units.
In response to adjacent heritage buildings, and the local streetscape, face bricks are used as the primary building material, providing an element of domesticity and restraint against the spaces of fun and play. Nevertheless, the project explores playfulness in elevation by adjusting the porosity of the hit-and-miss brickwork to respond to views, aesthetics and for solar shading.