Situated between the tree-lined historic Church Street pedestrian mall and the huge, highly designed environment of the Westfield Shopping Centre and Cinema Complex, dilapidated Darcy Street needed a makeover to remain viable and attractive to the public. Parramatta City Council required low cost proposals to maintain the civic standards appropriate for the prominent city gateway adjacent to the Parramatta Transport Interchange, while bearing in mind the buildings were earmarked for demolition in the future. Particular focus was on strategies to activate the street.
The temporary nature of the project (less than 10 year lifespan) enabled Parramatta City Council to embrace and implement a bold and colourful approach. Stage one saw the rear and side lanes completely decluttered of extraneous structures and repainted. A portion of the landscaping proposals were also implemented.
Stage two tackled the shop facades and street frontage. The old awnings were removed due to structural weakness and replaced with bright yellow, retractable canvas blinds. New hand painted shop and wayfinding signage matches the building colours and gives the whole street a unified quirky and vibrant facelift.
The design concept was developed and tested using 1:50 painted models of all the buildings.
The seven buildings in the street present a diversity of architectural form and style. The diagonal lines that cut across each façade work to unify them. The use of colour has caused the mishmash of architecture styles to recede and a new sense of place and identity has emerged.
The colour palette is inspired by both the local heritage buildings and by spices purchased in the excellent Asian grocery shops nearby. It develops the common ground between historic paint pigmentation and the spices that have travelled the world and found a home in Parramatta.
The Resene palette of colours matched to spices and food includes Resene Dixie Chick (fun yellow) - turmeric, Resene Twine (camel brown) – dried ginger, Resene Dallas (ochre brown) - Chinese 5 spice, Resene Rocky Road (mid toned chocolate) - garam masala, Resene Miso (yellowed neutral) - fennel, Resene Desert (yellow terracotta) - cayenne pepper, Resene Blackout (carbon brown) - peppercorns, Resene Florentine Pink (warm pink) - dried squid, Resene Roxy (sweet apricot) - dried squid, Resene Burnt Sienna (henna red) - sumac, Resene Dynamite (blue red) - chilli, Resene Chamois (creamy biscuit) - dried chestnut and Resene Envy (watery green) - curry leaf.
Walls, doors and window frames are finished in these hues with signage fascias in Resene Blackout. More Resene colour was added to complete signage and shop numbers using Resene Lumbersider for general wall space and Resene Enamacryl for window graphics in hues of Resene Envy, Resene Green Smoke (yellow green), Resene Double Alabaster (grey white), Resene Golden Dream (strong yellow), Resene Regal Blue (strong blue) and Resene Bianca (cream off-white).
The warm toned palette complements 30 Darcy St (which is also facing demolition) and significant heritage buildings nearby. It represents a goodbye gesture to an old fashioned palette as the city becomes more and more dominated by cool tones, steel and glass buildings. However the bold application and juxtaposition of the colours ensures that Darcy St is going out with a bang and not a whimper.
Colour is a powerful agent for change in the urban environment. This project has assisted Parramatta City Council to attract significant new business tenants into shorter term leases while the area is undergoing significant transformation. The repainted street has attracted new uses with a vibrant laneway café opening and night time food and music events have made use of the decluttered rear lane.
Artist interventions including urban greening experiments in gaps between the buildings and street art commissions are developing. The PopUp Parramatta programme has given low cost studio and retail space to artists and new businesses as part of the revitalisation strategy.
Architectural specifier: Lymesmith
Building contractor: SB Design
Client: Parramatta City Council
Landscape design: Katy Svalbe
Painting contractor - rear and side lanes: Dukes
Painting contractor - steel frontage: Craftwork
Photographer: Giddy Doug Riley, Giddy Design and Photography
Sign painter: Roger Robinson
Signage design: Ohlogic
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