The exchange library by Kengo Kuma exterior image at night

© Martin Mischkulnig

Kengo Kuma completed his first building in Australia: a spiraling six-story structure at the heart of Sydney’s darling square district. The civic center is known as ‘The Darling Exchange’ and contains a library with spaces to support creative and technology startups, a ground floor market hall, a childcare center, and a rooftop bar with views over the neighboring park.

The Darling Exchange Library Technical Information

Architecture forms a vital link between people and their surroundings. It acts as a gentle buffer between the fragility of human existence and the vast world outside. How different people choose to build connections in their environment essentially defines those societies and their relationships to conditions around them.

– Kengo Kuma

The Darling Exchange Building Photographs

© Martin Mischkulnig

Round architecture at the Darling exchange by Kengo Kuma

© Martin Mischkulnig

The Darling exchange by Kengo Kuma Ramp detail

© Martin Mischkulnig

The Darling exchange by Kengo Kuma public entrance

© Martin Mischkulnig

Exterior Wood Facade Detail by Kengo Kuma

© Martin Mischkulnig

Spiral architecture by Kengo Kuma Facade

© Martin Mischkulnig

The Darling exchange by Kengo Kuma Facade

© Martin Mischkulnig

Text by Kengo Kuma Architects

This is a “wooden community center” located in Darling Harbour in the center of Sydney’s downtown district. The objective for this community center was to create a soft and warm low-rise structure integrated with the square, in contrast to the group of high-rise multi-dwelling buildings in the surrounding area.

Hoods were placed randomly on the inside of the glass screens that can be opened in the market on the ground floor to blend in with the active street community daily, and the wooden spiral-shaped façade was extended into the square to transform it into a pergola that provides shade in the square. The upper floors contain a childcare center, library, restaurants, and other functions needed by the community, and each floor plate was shifted so that the view from each floor and the terraced housing differs.

The wooden screen that is comprised of wooden “threads” that are wrapped around the building in an irregular pattern gives it a very different expression from the surrounding high-rise buildings. The bent Accoya softwood members are randomly placed so that the panels overlap with each other onsite in a manner that the joints cannot be seen.

This structure resulted in an interior space that resembles a silkworm cocoon and a primitive façade that looks like a bird’s nest, creating an oasis in the middle of an urban jungle.

The Darling Exchange Gallery

About Kengo Kuma

Kengo Kuma is a Japanese architect and professor in the Department of Architecture (Graduate School of Engineering) at the University of Tokyo. Frequently compared to contemporaries Shigeru Ban and Kazuyo Sejima, Kuma is also noted for his prolific writings. He is the designer of the New National Stadium, Tokyo, built for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Other works from Kengo Kuma 

  1. Project Team: Yuki Ikeguchi, Marc Moukarzel, Diego Martin, Mira Yung, Laura Sandoval Illera, Taylor Park
  2. MEP and Structural Engineers: Lendlease