kengo kuma wraps 'the exchange' in sydney with a sculpturally curving timber screen

kengo kuma wraps 'the exchange' in sydney with a sculpturally curving timber screen

titled ‘the exchange’, this sculptural timber project by kengo kuma & associates offers a dynamic and formal public space to the urban context of sydney, australia. the exchange serves as a multi-use civic building comprised of a public library, childcare, and commercial uses. the diverse set of programming includes a fresh food market and restaurants. it is planned as a component of the large urban development in the active area of darling harbor.

exchange kengo kuma
all images © martin mischkulnig



designed by kengo kuma & associates, ‘the exchange’ is situated within a small urban pocket surrounded by high rise buildings characterized by rigid geometries and hard surfaces. the urban design strategy for the exchange is to create an architectural form in harmony with the square which can merge with the landscape and preserve a human scale using natural materials to produce a tangible and comfortable building. the site is a nodal point within its context surrounded by residential blocks, retail, and an active flow of people along the boulevard.

exchange kengo kuma



because of its relevant situation, the design team chose a non-directional architectural form, accessible and recognizable from all perspectives. the circular form reflects and promotes the vibrant and active neighborhood of the darling square precinct with its diverse mix of users. the timber building envelope offers natural texture to its neighbors. an organic and spontaneous timber screen wraps the shifting floor plates. this screen, comprised of timber strips, filters the natural light and provides a soft texture to the interior space. the team expresses architecture as a part of natural elements, as a tree or a ‘nest,’ in a playful and primitive manner.

exchange kengo kuma exchange kengo kuma exchange kengo kuma exchange kengo kuma exchange kengo kuma exchange kengo kuma

exchange kengo kuma

exchange kengo kuma



project info:


project title: the exchange

architecture: kengo kuma & associates

location: sydney, australia

program: market hall, public library, child care, F&B

design team: kengo kuma, yuki ikeguchi (partner in charge), marc moukarzel (project architect), diego martin, mira yung, laura sandoval illera, taylor park

architect of record: lendlease

landscape architect: ASPECT studios

structural engineer: lendlease

façade engineer: ARUP, F&D normoyle

façade optimization: ARMA

MEP, builder: lendlease

structural system: concrete structure, timber façade

photography: martin mischkulnig

  • This is an example of architecture and materials science combining to create something truly wonderful. It was made possible by the combination of the inspiration of Kengo Kuma Architects’ design team, the vision of both the project owner and the approving authorities, superb engineering (Lendlease and Arup) and the existence/availability of many impressive materials. For the most striking element, the stunning timber facade, it is worth mentioning that this material is Accoya wood, an advanced material that was developed and produced by Accsys Technologies – wood that is durable, dimensionally stable and both FSC and C2C sustainably certified.

    Eddie Pratt

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