Four Teams Shortlisted For Parramatta Square Design Competition

Architects. Image © City Council

Four designs for two large commercial towers in the heart of Sydney have been unveiled by Parramatta City Council, with proposals from Sydney based Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp, Johnson Pilton Walker, Bates Smart, and Italian practice Mario Cucinella Architects. Attracting over 73 submissions from around the world, the two towers will act as the centerpiece for the Parramatta Square’s three-hectare site.

The shortlist is part of stages five and six of the total master plan, previous projects of which have been awarded to the likes of Grimshaw ArchitectsReview the projects and read the jury’s comments after the break…

Councillor John Chedid, Lord Mayor of Sydney, described the the projects as “forward-thinking, innovative solutions,” going on to say that “without question, this creative range of designs, submitted by many of the leading architecture firms across the world today, will help us meet our future business, cultural, entertainment and tourism needs, and signpost Parramatta in a distinctive, unique way.”

Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp

Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp. Image © Parramatta City Council

Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp’s proposal was described as “two elegant, connected, tapering geometric towers that have the potential to become signature buildings in Parramatta Square.”

Johnson Pilton Walker

Johnson Pilton Walker. Image © Parramatta City Council

Of the Johnson Pilton Walker scheme, the jury said that it created links between Parramatta Square, Darcy Street and the Parramatta Station concourse, extending open public space over the two levels. They added that “the rectilinear towers hover high above the new open space, which is a grand gesture to Parramatta Square.”

Bates Smart

Bates Smart. Image © Parramatta City Council

Bates Smart’s project “proposes a differentiated active podium that addresses Parramatta Square, activating it with a mix of retail uses. Two rectilinear towers with deep recesses form a backdrop rather than an iconic gesture.”

Mario Cucinella Architects

Mario Cucinella Architects. Image © Parramatta City Council

When commenting on Mario Cucinella Architects’ proposal, the jury said that “this environmentally-focused scheme proposes a pair of conical towers whose surface is animated by a breathable photovoltaic system. The roof plane features sculptural wind turbines signaling the sustainable emphasis of this design.”

According to Parramatta Council, the four chosen teams “will now compete in a design excellence competition closing on 6th December.” Each will then receive $30,000 on submission of a complying scheme and the council will announce the winner before the end of the year.

Parramatta Square Design Competition Jury: 

  • Peter Poulet (City of Sydney Director of City Planning)
  • Graham Jahn (Development & Transport)
  • Elisabeth Peet (Department of Planning and Infrastructure urban design team leader) 
  • Scott Gregg (Parramatta City Council’s Director of Property Development)

References: Parramatta City Council

Cite: Taylor-Foster, James. "Four Teams Shortlisted For Parramatta Square Design Competition" 14 Nov 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <>
  • emem

    Shame Parramatta will still be a hole, no matter what they build there. Graffiti, rubbish, drunks and a general disregard for social etiquette will prevail.

    • Patrick H

      So clearly, we should just give up and build nothing, because nothing will ever improve. Great attitude.

  • Marshall Lambert

    I vote for the 1st scheme. definitely iconic. the last scheme…really? really?

    • Rizky Muzakir

      last scheme is not bad, it’s probably more appropriate for surreal Barcelona or experimental Singapore… not Paramatta, because Paramatta is not surreal nor experimental enough for imaginative ideas! kick!

  • kemal kibar

    Minarets in Uzbekistan (like the Qalan Minar)seems to be behind Cuninella’s design?

  • Sean Jones

    “…pair of conical towers whose surface is animated by a breathable photovoltaic system” yeah, because nothing says sustainability like waste of resources; curious to know what percent of the panels will be capturing solar energy at any given time. Overkill anyone? And the turbines sculpture is a bold proposal without knowing the wind conditions and surrounding context …even the CH2 in Melbourne failed in the turbine department even though they did their analysis while designing the project. First one has been done by Foster before and the other two look like a developer’s dream project.

  • Al

    Emem,Parramatta is a cultural city in the making. Sorry to disappoint you.

    • Amedeo

      Great concepts and congratulations to the council and designers. I love this city and it’s only getting better. All of these designs are beautiful.