The Exchange is a project by Kengo Kuma, designed as the new focal point of Darling Square, an area of Sydney’s business district.
The building contains a library, a child care facility, a market hall and a ‘makerspace’ to support creative and technological start-ups. Finally, on the rooftop there are a restaurant and a bar.
Its shape stands out in the middle of the rigid geometries and hard surfaces characterising the surrounding high rise buildings. The circular geometry makes the building as open to the community as possible, and also recognizable from many directions. The circular form reflects and promotes the vibrant and active neighborhood of the Darling Square Precinct with its diverse mix of users.
The material used as an external skin are wooden slats. To express the active and diverse nature of the building, a dynamic geometry was created through a shifting of floor plates. By shifting them, comfortable outdoor terraces are created at each level.In addition, the timber strips filter the natural light and provide a soft texture to the interior space.
The project can be described through the following three modelling approaches:
1. Displacement. The building consists of 6 sloping and staggered floors. At the initial pure form, that of the cylinder, horizontal cuts are applied. The resulting disks are then deformed according to a set of vectors with different directions.
2. Math. The different disks that make up the building are apparently staggered randomly, but in reality their reciprocal position has been calculated precisely through mathematical formulas.
3. Wireframe. In this project the structural skeleton and the architectural form are linked together, determining the framework of the final shape. The structural optimisation made through the wireframe process becomes an opportunity to form the appearance of the architecture itself. This project is similar to a nest, in which each branch both gives stability to the structure and also creates the perceived shape of it.