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Urban Rehab: Once Abandoned, a Sydney Street Rises Again

By Dwell @dwell
Kensington Street Sydney Australia

Once abandoned, Kensington Street is a "vibrant melting pot of contemporary design and historic charm," says developer and Greencliff Executive Chairman Dr. Stanley Quek.

In the Chippendale area of Sydney, Australia, Kensington Street was once buzzed with life from factories and warehouses on the edge of the Carlton United Brewery. But fast-forward a century-and-a-half, and the area had fallen into neglect. 

Now, thanks to a team of architects and landscape designers lead by Greencliff developers, Kensington Street's terraced 1840s workers' cottages and old industrial buildings have been transformed into a bustling laneway filled with shopping and dining experiences, and even a boutique hotel—a type of public urban space more typically associated with Sydney's southern cousin, Melbourne.

The original site consisted of 16 listed historic houses, which architecture firm Tonkin Zulaikha Greer rehabbed over the course of eight years with the assistance of heritage architect Paul Davies & Associates. Now the buildings form a series of retail and gallery spaces topped with bars and restaurants. 

The rehabilitation project does more than just revive a historic stretch of the city, it also preserves it from encroaching high-rises, a fact the design team nodded to in their choices. The paving brick, for instance, both pays homage to history and serves as a tool for navigation. 

"We kept the materials palette as simple as possible, with the hero, bespoke Bowral Blue brick, paying homage to its local architectural heritage," explains Mike Horne, director of Turf Design Studio, the project's landscape architects. "The pattern of the brick changes across the public domain to add visual interest and delineate between building edge, the City of Sydney boundary, and the through-site links." 

Since opening in September 2015, the project has gained quite a bit of attention. Now, nearly a year after its debut, Kensington Street has won accolades for overall architectural design as well as urban design and public spaces with the 2016 edition of the Good Design Awards, a program that has rewarded design excellence and innovation since 1958.

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