Conceived as an urban garden, Short Lane is an undertaking in providing humans with a connection to nature in a dense, inner-urban setting that lacks greenery. The mixed-use development by Woods Bagot retains the diversity of its local neighbourhood and creates places for more of it to happen – with new botanical spaces, walkable laneways and venues for local participation.
A diverse mix of 22 apartments appeals to the dramatic surrounding lifestyle of Surry Hills in Sydney. Below, a new fine-grain retail component activates the street frontage and existing lanes, with the new Short Lane connecting both. The retail spaces are articulated as a series of metal-clad framed window bays within a larger framed form. This play with scale allows the double-height retail spaces to mediate with the finer grain of the associated terraces and smaller scale commercial buildings at street level.
The residential levels above are expressed as a series of horizontal concrete landscaped terraces that stagger across the building elevation with Cilandra and Periwinkle plants dripping and creating private botanical spaces for the residents. The staggering forms create a natural screen between apartments and justify a ‘living building’ to the street frontage.
Inside, understated interiors create a sophisticated urban retreat. Exposed concrete ceilings are balanced by the earthy warmth of oak floors. The height, scale, materiality and architectural expression have been designed to complement the surrounding buildings. The terrace featured a graffiti artwork, which has been restored by the original artist and forms part of the new lane entry experience, echoing the past of a once gritty urban neighbourhood.
The new verdant apartment typology, atop a reawakened lane network in Surry Hills is stitched neatly into the local urban fabric with height, scale and materiality complementing historic neighbours. Ultimately, Short Lane is an exemplar for low scale, mixed-use city living, seeking to integrate nature within a harsh urban environment.
Photography: Trevor Mein.