The award-winning development changing the way design is done in Sydney | Kanebridge News
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The award-winning development changing the way design is done in Sydney

Quay Quarter Lanes won the Walter Burley Griffin Award for Urban Design in last week’s Australian Institute of Architects awards

By Robyn Willis
Mon, Nov 7, 2022 9:20amGrey Clock 3 min

I t’s 6pm on a weeknight and already, basement bar Apollonia on Young Street is full. Earlier in the day, queues snake along Loftus Lane as customers wait their turn to order lunch at Marrickville Pork Roll. It’s the same story at nearby Hinchcliff House, where it can take weeks to book a table at the busy restaurant.

While Quay Quarter Laneways at Sydney’s Circular Quay has picked up a number of awards, including the Lord Mayor’s Prize for Architecture and the Urban Design Award, it is perhaps the locals who offer the best measure of its success. For architect Shaun Carter, director of CarterWilliamson, it’s a delight to see so many people engaging with this part of the city.

“Before we started working on the laneway, it was scary,” he says. 

Made up of five buildings – two existing heritage buildings and three new – Quay Quarter Lanes, tucked in behind the historic Customs House is the result of an eight-year process involving five architectural studios. While Loftus Lane is the main through way for visitors, 9 Young Street by Studio Bright, 15 and 11 Young Street by SJB and 18 Loftus Street by Silvester Fuller are home to several floors of apartments, as well as roof gardens and terraces, balancing privacy with world class views of Circular Quay. Two of the new buildings will also have office, retail and hospitality spaces.

Hinchciff House, one of only two surviving woolstores at Circular Quay, became the focus for the studio of CarterWilliamson while Lippmann Partnership took on Gallipoli Memorial Club. 

Engaging five leading (but not large) Sydney architecture studios to collaborate on Quay Quarter Lanes, rather than one firm, is a marked departure from the way redevelopment has been done in Sydney. ASPECT Studios took responsibility for the landscape and urban design for both Quay Quarter Lanes and the adjacent Quay Quarter Tower. 

Co-ordinating architect and SJB director Adam Haddow says bringing in five studios to work across the 2,200sqm site allowed for greater attention to be given to even the smallest aspects of each building.

“The best architecture is about smallness and specificity,” Haddow says. “Each building had its own site foreman and architect leading it. When you can form a team of diverse thinkers who can work those issues out between boundaries, you get great results.”

Although the buildings are quite different, the expectation was that they would make room for each other to be their best selves. This required a lot of conversations between architectural practices.

“It was a bit like herding cats,” Haddow admits. “But if you leave a project in one set of hands, no matter how good those hands are, they are spread thinly. If you can get many hands doing small things there is ‘bigness’.” 

Carter says the collective met on site on a weekly basis to discuss progress of their work and how it would relate to the other buildings.

“It was like State of Origin where you have all the best players on the one team and they all had to play their part in the retelling of a Sydney block. But it only works if you have great players on the team,” Carter says. 

“We met every Thursday and everyone would be tired because of the level of commitment -which was outstanding – but it meant often we weren’t getting enough sleep.”

Drawing on the history of the site, the palette is varied and yet sympathetic, leaning into the texture and warmth of brick for the new buildings and reviving the beauty of the original sandstone for the existing buildings.

In some parts, new brickwork curves upwards, like it has been peeled back from the building. Other parts have arched ceilings finished in finely worked plaster.

“When we started having conversations we had six teams working on how to define ‘place’,” Haddow says. “ASPECT found references to the ‘pleasure grounds’ that they created near Customs House in the early 1800s where people used to come together.”

Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi artist Jonathan Jones was selected to design a number of artworks that have been integrated into the site, from ‘oyster shells’ embedded into mortar lines as a reference to Indigenous middens once found on this site, to ‘fish scales’ using green marble from the demolished lobby of 50 Bridge Street. 

“There was a strong narrative of people coming together on the site,” says Haddow. 

Tucked in behind the heritage protected Customs House, the development also needed to take site lines to Circular Quay and the harbour into account. Once again, the coordinated collaboration paid dividends.

“All the buildings look down on Customs House,” he says. “Ours was the tallest building at the back so we consolidated the aircon plant so that not every building has to have that ugly service part to it. All the rubbish is also collected in one spot.”

For Haddow, it’s also the rubbish that has been his measure of the success of this project.

“When people really live somewhere, they take care of it and look after it,” he says. “I noticed one evening that there was a guy walking along picking up rubbish and I thought ‘you live here’.”

Lucky guy.

See more stories like this in the first issue of Kanebridge Quarterly magazine here.

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Equities are often seen as expensive after promising start to 2023

By CAITLIN MCCABE
Mon, Jan 30, 2023 7 min

A new trading year kicked off just weeks ago. Already it bears little resemblance to the carnage of 2022.

After languishing throughout last year, growth stocks have zoomed higher. Tesla Inc. and Nvidia Corp., for example, have jumped more than 30%. The outlook for bonds is brightening after a historic rout. Even bitcoin has rallied, despite ongoing effects from the collapse of the crypto exchange FTX.

The rebound has been driven by renewed optimism about the global economic outlook. Investors have embraced signs that inflation has peaked in the U.S. and abroad. Many are hoping that next week the Federal Reserve will slow its pace of interest-rate increases yet again. China’s lifting of Covid-19 restrictions pleasantly surprised many traders who have welcomed the move as a sign that more growth is ahead.

Still, risks loom large. Many investors aren’t convinced that the rebound is sustainable. Some are worried about stretched stock valuations, or whether corporate earnings will face more pain down the road. Others are fretting that markets aren’t fully pricing in the possibility of a recession, or what might happen if the Fed continues to fight inflation longer than currently anticipated.

We asked five investors to share how they are positioning for that uncertainty and where they think markets could be headed next. Here is what they said:

‘Animal spirits’ could return

Cliff Asness, founder of AQR Capital Management, acknowledges that he wasn’t expecting the run in speculative stocks and digital currencies that has swept markets to kick off 2023.

Bitcoin prices have jumped around 40%. Some of the stocks that are the most heavily bet against on Wall Street are sitting on double-digit gains. Carvana Co. has soared nearly 64%, while MicroStrategy Inc. has surged more than 80%. Cathie Wood‘s ARK Innovation ETF has gained about 29%.

If the past few years have taught Mr. Asness anything, it is to be prepared for such run-ups to last much longer than expected. His lesson from the euphoria regarding risky trades in 2020 and 2021? Don’t count out the chance that the frenzy will return again, he said.

“It could be that there are still these crazy animal spirits out there,” Mr. Asness said.

Still, he said that hasn’t changed his conviction that cheaper stocks in the market, known as value stocks, are bound to keep soaring past their peers. There might be short spurts of outperformance for more-expensive slices of the market, as seen in January. But over the long term, he is sticking to his bet that value stocks will beat growth stocks. He is expecting a volatile, but profitable, stretch for the trade.

“I love the value trade,” Mr. Asness said. “We sing about it to our clients.”

—Gunjan Banerji

Keeping dollar’s moves in focus

For Richard Benson, co-chief investment officer of Millennium Global Investments Ltd., no single trade was more important last year than the blistering rise of the U.S. dollar.

Once a relatively placid area of markets following the 2008 financial crisis, currencies have found renewed focus from Wall Street and Main Street. Last year the dollar’s unrelenting rise dented multinational companies’ profits, exacerbated inflation for countries that import American goods and repeatedly surprised some traders who believed the greenback couldn’t keep rallying so fast.

The factors that spurred the dollar’s rise are now contributing to its fall. Ebbing inflation and expectations of slower interest-rate increases from the Fed have sent the dollar down 1.7% this year, as measured by the WSJ Dollar Index.

Mr. Benson is betting more pain for the dollar is ahead and sees the greenback weakening between 3% and 5% over the next three to six months.

“When the biggest central bank in the world is on the move, look at everything through their lens and don’t get distracted,” said Mr. Benson of the London-based currency fund manager, regarding the Fed.

This year Mr. Benson expects the dollar’s fall to ripple similarly far and wide across global economies and markets.

“I don’t see many people complaining about a weaker dollar” over the next few months, he said. “If the dollar is falling, that economic setup should also mean that tech stocks should do quite well.”

Mr. Benson said he expects the dollar’s fall to brighten the outlook for some emerging- market assets, and he is betting on China’s offshore yuan as the country’s economy reopens. He sees the euro strengthening versus the dollar if the eurozone’s economy continues to fare better than expected.

—Caitlin McCabe

Stocks still appear overvalued

Even after the S&P 500 fell 15% from its record high reached in January 2022, U.S. stocks still look expensive, said Rupal Bhansali, chief investment officer of Ariel Investments, who oversees $6.7 billion in assets.

Of course, the market doesn’t appear as frothy as it did for much of 2020 and 2021, but she said she expects a steeper correction in prices ahead.

The broad stock-market gauge recently traded at 17.9 times its projected earnings over the next 12 months, according to FactSet. That is below the high of around 24 hit in late 2020, but above the historical average over the past 20 years of 15.7, FactSet data show.

“The old habit was buy the dip,” Ms. Bhansali said. “The new habit should be sell the rip.”

One reason Ms. Bhansali said the selloff might not be over yet? The market is still underestimating the Fed.

Investors repeatedly mispriced how fast the Fed would move in 2022, wrongly expecting the central bank to ease up on its rate increases. They were caught off guard by Fed Chair Jerome Powell‘s aggressive messages on interest rates. It stoked steep selloffs in the stock market, leading to the most turbulent year since the 2008 financial crisis. Now investors are making the same mistake again, Ms. Bhansali said.

Current stock valuations don’t reflect the big shift coming in central-bank policy, which she thinks will have to be more aggressive than many expect. Though broader measures of inflation have been falling, some slices, such as services inflation, have proved stickier. Ms. Bhansali is positioning for such areas as healthcare, which she thinks would be more insulated from a recession than the rest of the market, to outperform.

“The Fed is determined to win the war since they lost the battle,” Ms. Bhansali said.

—Gunjan Banerji

A better year for bonds seen

Gone are the days when tumbling bond yields left investors with few alternatives to stocks. Finally, bonds are back, according to Niall O’Sullivan of Neuberger Berman, an investment manager overseeing about $427 billion in client assets at the end of 2022.

After a turbulent year for the fixed-income market in 2022, bonds have kicked off the new year on a more promising note. The Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Bond Index—composed largely of U.S. Treasurys, highly rated corporate bonds and mortgage-backed securities—climbed 3% so far this year on a total return basis through Thursday’s close. That is the index’s best start to a year since it began in 1989, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

Mr. O’Sullivan, the chief investment officer of multi asset strategies for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Neuberger Berman, said the single biggest conversation he is currently having with clients is how to increase fixed-income exposure.

“Strategically, the facts have changed. When you look at fixed income as an asset class…they’re now all providing yield, and possibly even more importantly, actual cash coupons of a meaningful size,” he said. “That is a very different world to the one we’ve been in for quite a long time.”

Mr. O’Sullivan said it is important to reconsider how much of an advantage stocks now hold over bonds, given what he believes are looming risks for the stock market. He predicts that inflation will be harder to wrangle than investors currently anticipate and that the Fed will hold its peak interest rate steady for longer than is currently expected. Even more worrying, he said, it will be harder for companies to continue passing on price increases to consumers, which means earnings could see bigger hits in the future.

“That is why we are wary on the equity side,” he said.

Among the products that Mr. O’Sullivan said he favours in the fixed-income space are higher-quality and shorter-term bonds. Still, he added, it is important for investors to find portfolio diversity outside bonds this year. For that, he said he views commodities as attractive, specifically metals such as copper, which could continue to benefit from China’s reopening.

—Caitlin McCabe

 

Find the fear, and find the value

Ramona Persaud, a portfolio manager at Fidelity Investments, said she can still identify bargains in a pricey market by looking in less-sanguine places. Find the fear, and find the value, she said.

“When fear really rises, you can buy some very well-run businesses,” she said.

Take Taiwan’s semiconductor companies. Concern over global trade and tensions with China have weighed on the shares of chip makers based on the island. But those fears have led many investors to overlook the competitive advantages those companies hold over rivals, she said.

“That is a good setup,” said Ms. Persaud, who considers herself a conservative value investor and manages more than $20 billion across several U.S. and Canadian funds.

The S&P 500 is trading above fair value, she said, which means “there just isn’t widespread opportunity,” and investors might be underestimating some of the risks that lie in waiting.

“That tells me the market is optimistic,” said Ms. Persaud. “That would be OK if the risks were not exogenous.”

Those challenges, whether rising interest rates and Fed policy or Russia’s war in Ukraine and concern over energy-security concerns in Europe, are complicated, and in many cases, interrelated.

It isn’t all bad news, she said. China ended its zero-Covid restrictions. A milder winter in Europe has blunted the effects of the war in Ukraine on energy prices and helped the continent sidestep recession, and inflation is slowing.

“These are reasons the market is so happy,” she said.

—Justin Baer

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