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Contemporary Sydney apartment building with rippling, organic sandstone and metal exterior

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Fluid, undulating sandstone and metal exterior to Eliza Apartments in Sydney, designed by Tony Owen Partners Architects

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Technology is not only changing the way we live, it's also changing the way our homes are designed.

The Eliza Apartments building in downtown Sydney is one of the first of a new breed – a high-rise built to a parametric design model that enables every floor to have different dimensions.

Designed by architect Tony Owen and developed by Ceerose, the 17-storey building in Elizabeth Street was created from hundreds of tessellated, individually shaped sandstone and metal panels. The result is a fluid, sculptural form that pays homage to the surrounding heritage architecture while still providing a highly contemporary design expression.

"It is a bold, curvaceous contrast to the egg-crate box style of architecture that has typified Sydney's apartment buildings in recent years," Owen says. "Yet it respects the historic buildings by borrowing their materials and some of their form – the balconies are a nod to the traditional bay windows common to heritage buildings in Elizabeth and Macquarie Streets."

The geometry of the curving bays of the front facade gradually changes as the building rises, with the three-level penthouse stepped back to maximise the sun and views.

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"We took the geometry right down to the ground, with a protruding metal canopy over the entry," says the architect. "The neighbouring buildings tend to have a decorative solid sandstone podium, so we created a similarly detailed podium."

The tessellated motif continues in the lobby, which features a long, sculpted sandstone wall that curves to form the ceiling. The same motif appears in mirrored timber screens in lift lobbies, and at the rear of the building, in a 10-storey green wall.

"This glazed living wall, on the north side of the building, creates a pleasant green outlook for bedrooms at the rear," says Owen. "It also lets in plenty of natural light and sun."

The building has two two-bedroom apartments on the lower levels and single four-bedroom apartments on the upper levels. The penthouse comes with its own swimming pool and roof terrace.

Open-plan living areas and master bedrooms are positioned to maximise the views of Hyde Park opposite or the harbour beyond. The views are framed by the curved metal balustrades on the balconies, which are designed as wintergardens that extend the living space.

The apartment interiors have high-end fixtures and fittings, in keeping with the prestigious location. Each unit has limestone floors throughout the living spaces, dark timber cabinets and wall panelling, and C-Bus lighting, with fixtures fully recessed in troughs. Each apartment also has a contemporary gas fireplace set within a bronze mirrored wall.

Designed for easy entertaining, the kitchens have islands with marble benchtops. Some kitchens also have a butler's pantry and a separate preparation area for catering purposes.

Bathrooms are lined with stone, with marble slabs on tub surrounds and vanities chosen for their distinctive veining.

First published date: 12 January 2015

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Credit List

Architect Tony Owen with Esan Rahmani, Gerardo Oiz, Claudio Porly, Michael Civovic, Benny Ng, Wendy Tong, Raymond Ng, Diana Quintero Saul, Tony Owen Partners Architects, Sydney
Developer Ceerose
Structural engineer M+G Consulting
Mechanical and electrical engineer Cardno ITC
Landscaping Site Landscape
Facade structure Micos Glass; Aluminium Facade Solutions
Facade panels Advanced Precast (Aust)
Facade sandstone Stoneplus NSW
Lobby and balcony floor tiles Marble
Lobby walls Sandstone
Apartment floor tiles Limestone