In planning the future of NSW’s Blackwattle Bay, fjmtstudio and Bangawarra have collaborated on a Connecting with Country Framework that reaches beyond the physical to acknowledge the stories and cultural significance of the site.

Read more at or in Indesign magazine issue 86.

Image: Mark Gerada.

fjmtstudio Australia will be closed from Thursday 23 December 2021 and will re-open on Monday 17 January 2022. The UK studio will be closed from Friday 17 December 2021 and will reopen on Tuesday 4 January 2022.
We would like to thank all of our incredible clients, consultants, contractors and dedicated staff for making it a wonderful year despite the challenges. We wish you all a safe, happy and restful holiday break.

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira, Te Ao Mārama and Cenotaph Galleries by Jasmax, FJMT and designTRIBE architects has won both the Public and Heritage Awards at the Auckland Architecture Awards.

Te Ao Mārama marks the arrival of an inclusive and collaborative approach to the storytelling of Tāmaki Herenga Waka. The new South Atrium renovation brings balance to the original European architecture, and embeds mana whenua and Pacific narratives into the museum’s civic spaces. Tikanga now guides welcome, arrival, orientation and kai. New boulevards connect Te Ao Mārama to the Māori Court, and the tanoa bowl form is fully realised with exquisite detailing. External works enhance the pedestrian experience of arrival and provides views to significant landforms. Te Ao Mārama sets a new precedent and lays down a challenge to all who visit it to see their museum, and their heritage, afresh.

This collaborative team has successfully unlocked the bicultural potential in a nationally significant heritage building. By engaging in meaningful consultation with diverse governance to meet public expectations, the collaborators have enhanced both the He Korahi Māori and Teu Le Va experiences. This thoughtful design responds to the proportions of the existing building with a heritage fabric that has been adaptively reused and refurbished, and successfully pieces together old and new. The new work enables a dialogue between New Zealand’s colonial past and the present, and offers a path towards decolonisation.

Image:  Dennis Radermacher.

The Wolfson Building is a new neuroscience research building at Oxford University's John Radcliffe Hospital accommodating the UK's first dedicated centre for prevention of stroke and dementia.

The three-storey building houses a mix of laboratory, office and meeting/seminar space. It provides purpose-built facilities for the Wolfson Centre for the Prevention of Stroke and Dementia, as well as research space for the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging.

It has been awarded a RIBA South Award and Winner in the New Buildings Category in the Oxford Preservation Trust Awards.

Bunjil Place is a stunning example of genuinely impactful design. The scale of the impact is significant and meaningful. Bunjil Place reaches a large community by providing a sense of place and amenity that was previously absent. This project has created a true civic heart that brings together various functions that benefit the community and staff. It provides a platform for community programming, social interaction and cultural inclusion – it brings the people of Casey together and brings people to the City of Casey.

The success of Bunjil Place is due to a confluence of intelligent and ambitious undertakings by the designers and client that have resulted in a coherent, well-resolved and joyful design.

Co-development and expansion of the brief raised initial expectations and enabled the project to realise its full potential. A generosity of spirit is evident in fjmtinterior’s determination to provide authentic world-class facilities for the City of Casey, including an international-standard art gallery and an 850-seat state-of-the-art theatre. The highly functional design caters equally to the needs of international artists and primary school groups.

Genuine engagement with the Indigenous community, from the competition stage and throughout the design process, has strengthened and informed the symbolic design, which integrates the form of Bunjil through the timber ceiling grid.

Planning is intuitive and human-centred. All amenities, including the library, art gallery, theatre, council chambers and offices radiate from the central lobby, maximising cross-interaction and cross-engagement. The flexible use of spaces – in particular, the Council Chamber’s adaptability to a function venue – has provided increased revenue and is a demonstrably effective use of rate payers’ money.

Bunjil Place has proven transformative to a community through increased local patronage to the arts and literature, new job creation, education and access to the arts, and local access to world-class performances and exhibitions. This project has changed lives positively and will continue to do so for future generations.

Jury Citation.

At Sydney-Open, a livestream panel discussion chaired by Adam Haddow on new heritage asked what buildings saved from demolition have changed the city for the better. Panelist and Design Director of fjmtstudio Richard Francis-Jones put forward the Sirius building but also suggested that while the building was saved something more important has been lost. 

Following this and in response to the NSW Chapter Editorial Committee's call for contributions in a context of of crisis Richard wrote the following piece. 

The Sirius social housing project cannot be considered or properly valued outside the incredible history and narrative of its making. It is perhaps a greater social and cultural project than it is architectural. Its heritage is as much about meaning and use as the skillful composition of brutalist precast concrete frames.

Sirius was raised out of the demolished public housing terraces of the Rocks, a new home for a displaced community and a monument of social atonement and equity. Ironically this architecture of compensation and repair broke the delicate urban form and scale of the Rocks in pursuit of an only slightly adjusted modernist paradigm of urban renewal that was the cause of the original damage.

It is a remarkable project and a remarkably poetic story.

It embodies the community and political struggle of the Green Bans, the urban struggle between modernist renewal and the historic city, and also embodies the noble project of modernity directed towards social emancipation and equity. But now emptied of its community, of its social purpose, of its life, and true significance, it has become a mere shell. What have we preserved and what have we lost? Does it actually matter if any future repurposing of this monument of social atonement is a good or bad work of architectural adaptation if the soul of the building has already left?

The story of Sirius began in the late 1960s when the historic Rocks with its tight-knit terraces and narrow streets, was planned to undergo an ambitious urban regeneration that would epitomise the modernist post-war paradigm of healthy, equitable living. Residential towers and gardens with light, view, and fresh air, were to represent a modern 20th century ideal at the edge of our Harbour. This new urban vision was perhaps best expressed, in the proposal of 1963 by Sydney’s greatest exponent of modernism Harry Seidler.

The problem, however, was not the quality of the architecture, but the social and cultural cost of such over-simplified modernist paradigms that were fracturing communities and historic urban form in cities throughout the world.

At the Rocks, demolition had already begun and local residents were displaced from the terraces on George, Playfair, and Atherden Streets. However, this social displacement and urban transformation was dramatically halted through public protests, union action and, Green Bans championed by the NSW Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) leader and environmentalist Jack Mundey, who passed away in May last year.

Following the success of this community action, the Sirius project was to rise from the rubble, mend the damage and heal the wounds, by providing new accommodation for the displaced residents. Designed by the NSW Housing Commission and led by Tao Gofers, Sirius was a great contrast to the terrace house typology of the Rocks. Vertically stacked up, open, precast concrete boxes of individual apartments offering views, natural light and roof gardens. Paradoxically, it was a late 1970s variation on the form of the 1960s modernist urban regeneration that had caused the destruction in the first place.

Part of its success perhaps, is its exceptionalism in this tight-knit historic urban form and community, which lets us appreciate the contrast and complement of the urban-social visions.

But its cultural significance is in giving witness to the great social urban drama that was played out on the front stage of our City at Circular Quay. An architectural monument of social atonement giving pride of place and the best views of Harbour and Opera House to vulnerable members of our community displaced by haste and ignorance of modern ‘progress’.

Perhaps this was never going to last as values and political priorities changed and the most privileged parts of our cities were inevitably claimed by the socially privileged. But in January 2018 when Myra Demetriou, the last resident of Sirius left and the building sold, something essential to the heart and meaning of the project also left.

Architecture is not separate from the aspirations of its making and the life and values it embodies. These are integral to its cultural worth and heritage, this is particularly the case with Sirius which bears witness to such an important social urban narrative, played out dramatically at centre stage in our city but also occurring in our peripheral vision all over New South Wales.

Sirius embodied a great and important story, in its scale, form, geometry and material, but most of all in its life and content. Surely no amount of carefully considered contemporary interpretation and skillful design adaptation can compensate for a loss, fatal to the meaning, purpose and essence of the architecture.

Emptied of its social meaning, of its soul, does it actually matter what we now do to the shell?

This piece was originally published in Architecture Bulletin Vol 78 / No. 1 What are we doing? July 2021 and online 4 May 2021.

Image: Jack Mundey being carried from a protest at The Rocks in the early seventies. Robert Pearce, SMH.

LOST concepts and urban propositions make up a significant body of work for most Sydney studios of architecture. For one reason or another many ideas and proposals will never be realised, and are rarely displayed or shared in any way. These concepts are often provocative, explorative and convincing, yet remain in the speculative — lost to the collective architectural culture of our city. 

LOST is an exhibition that uncovers and explores a series of these concepts and propositions by a group of leading Sydney architectural studios. Displayed in the UTS Central Exhibition Space these concepts will be made visible to spectators within the campus and on Broadway, generating a conceptual dialogue between community and city. 

Co-curated by Richard Francis-Jones & Brooke Jackson
Co-designed by James Perry, Alicia McCarthy, Shuang Wu
Exhibiting Candalepas Associates, CHROFI, Collins and Turner, Durbach Block Jaggers, fjmtstudio, Neeson Murcutt + Neille, Terroir and Tribe Studio.

UTS Exhibition Space on Broadway
22 February – 23 April 2021.

The new comprehensive Inner Sydney High School, which occupies a site on the corner of Cleveland and Chalmers Streets in the urban inner city suburb of Surry Hills, creates a new future focused high-rise campus, with a mix of new and refurbished buildings, providing a diversity of learning environments for the local students.

The new school presents a vertical typology with a bespoke educational model specifically developed collaboratively with educational consultants, fjmtstudio and a selected panel of experts. The school is one of the very few precedents globally of a true high-rise school.

Conceptually the form was conceived as a series of identifiable elements carefully articulated to respond to the scale of the existing context, creating a campus sitting comfortably within and with strong connections to Prince Alfred Park. The form and the continued connection to nature within such an urban environment, creates a natural sense of intimacy and community.

UTS Central has officially opened its doors to students, staff and the community, the final building to be delivered as part of a 10-year campus redevelopment program.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Attila Brungs in his opening speech:

Forty years ago this year, the iconic (and some unkindly say ‘ugly’) brutalist Tower next door to us was officially opened to the public as the centrepiece of the then-NSW Institute of Technology. Despite the love/hate relationship the Sydney community has with the Tower, it was a building of its time and has an enduring legacy. 

Forty years later, and we are here to open UTS Central – the neighbour to the Tower – and an embodiment of the evolution of education. As we celebrate the opening of this new building, we come to the end of our decade-long campus redevelopment … and we embark on our next wave of re-imagining education for the future as part of our next ten-year strategy.

The twin crises of climate breakdown and biodiversity loss are the most serious issue of our time. Globally, buildings and construction play a major part, accounting for nearly 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions whilst also having a significant impact on our natural habitats. Meeting the needs of our communities and staying within our ecological limits will require a shift in our behaviour as well as the design, delivery and performance of our buildings. Together with our clients, we will need to commission and design buildings, cities and infrastructures as indivisible components of a larger, constantly regenerating and self-sustaining system.

The research and technology exist for us to begin that transformation now, but what has been lacking is collective will. Recognising this, we are committing to strengthen our working practices to create architecture and urbanism that has a more positive impact on the world around us.

fjmtstudio acknowledges all Aboriginal and Torres  Strait Islander peoples, the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work.

We recognise their continuing connection to Country and pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

We extend this acknowledgement to Indigenous People globally, recognising their human
rights and freedoms as articulated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.