The award-winning development changing the way design is done in Sydney
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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.


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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New York Watch Auctions Record Uptick in Sales in the Face of Market Slowdown
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Luxury watch collectors showed ongoing strong demand for Patek Philippe, growing interest in modern watches and a preference for larger case sizes and leather straps at the June watch sales in New York, according to an analysis of the major auctions.

Independent and neo-vintage categories, meanwhile, experienced declines in total sales and average prices, said the report from  EveryWatch, a global online platform for watch information. Overall, the New York auctions achieved total sales of US$52.27 million, a 9.87% increase from the previous year, on the sale of 470 lots, reflecting a 37% increase in volume. Unsold rates ticked down a few points to 5.31%, according to the platform’s analysis.

EveryWatch gathered data from official auction results for sales held in New York from June 5 to 10 at Christie’s, Phillips, and Sotheby’s. Limited to watch sales exclusively, each auction’s data was reviewed and compiled for several categories, including total lots, sales and sold rates, highest prices achieved, performance against estimates, sales trends in case materials and sizes as well as dial colors, and more. The resulting analysis provides a detailed overview of market trends and performance.

The Charles Frodsham Pocket watch sold at Phillips for $433,400.

“We still see a strong thirst for rare, interesting, and exceptional watches, modern and vintage alike, despite a little slow down in the market overall,” says Paul Altieri, founder and CEO of the California-based pre-owned online watch dealer, in an email. “The results show that there is still a lot of money floating around out there in the economy looking for quality assets.”

Patek Philippe came out on top with more than US$17.68 million on the sale of 122 lots. It also claimed the top lot: Sylvester Stallone’s Patek Philippe GrandMaster Chime 6300G-010, still in the sealed factory packaging, which sold at Sotheby’s for US$5.4 million, much to the dismay of the brand’s president, Thierry Stern . The London-based industry news website WatchPro estimates the flip made the actor as much as US$2 million in just a few years.

At Christie’s, the top lot was a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM56-02 AO Tourbillon Sapphire
Richard Mille

“As we have seen before and again in the recent Sotheby’s sale, provenance can really drive prices higher than market value with regards to the Sylvester Stallone Panerai watches and his standard Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1a offered,” Altieri says.

Patek Philippe claimed half of the top 10 lots, while Rolex and Richard Mille claimed two each, and Philippe Dufour claimed the No. 3 slot with a 1999 Duality, which sold at Phillips for about US$2.1 million.

“In-line with EveryWatch’s observation of the market’s strong preference for strap watches, the top lot of our auction was a Philippe Dufour Duality,” says Paul Boutros, Phillips’ deputy chairman and head of watches, Americas, in an email. “The only known example with two dials and hand sets, and presented on a leather strap, it achieved a result of over US$2 million—well above its high estimate of US$1.6 million.”

In all, four watches surpassed the US$1 million mark, down from seven in 2023. At Christie’s, the top lot was a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM56-02 AO Tourbillon Sapphire, the most expensive watch sold at Christie’s in New York. That sale also saw a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM52-01 CA-FQ Tourbillon Skull Model go for US$1.26 million to an online buyer.

Rolex expert Altieri was surprised one of the brand’s timepieces did not crack the US$1 million threshold but notes that a rare Rolex Daytona 6239 in yellow gold with a “Paul Newman John Player Special” dial came close at US$952,500 in the Phillips sale.

The Crown did rank second in terms of brand clout, achieving sales of US$8.95 million with 110 lots. However, both Patek Philippe and Rolex experienced a sales decline by 8.55% and 2.46%, respectively. The independent brand Richard Mille, with US$6.71 million in sales, marked a 912% increase from the previous year with 15 lots, up from 5 lots in 2023.

The results underscored recent reports of prices falling on the secondary market for specific coveted models from Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet. The summary points out that five top models produced high sales but with a fall in average prices.

The Rolex Daytona topped the list with 42 appearances, averaging US$132,053, a 41% average price decrease. Patek Philippe’s Nautilus, with two of the top five watches, made 26 appearances with an average price of US$111,198, a 26% average price decrease. Patek Philippe’s Perpetual Calendar followed with 23 appearances and a US$231,877 average price, signifying a fall of 43%, and Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak had 22 appearances and an average price of US$105,673, a 10% decrease. The Rolex Day Date is the only watch in the top five that tracks an increase in average price, which at US$72,459 clocked a 92% increase over last year.

In terms of categories, modern watches (2005 and newer) led the market with US$30 million in total sales from 226 lots, representing a 53.54% increase in sales and a 3.78% increase in average sales price over 2023. Vintage watches (pre-1985) logged a modest 6.22% increase in total sales and an 89.89% increase in total lots to 169.

However, the average price was down across vintage, independent, and neo-vintage (1990-2005) watches. Independent brands saw sales fall 24.10% to US$8.47 million and average prices falling 42.17%, while neo-vintage watches experienced the largest decline in sales and lots, with total sales falling 44.7% to US$8.25 million, and average sales price falling 35.73% to US$111,000.


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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