Design/Completion 2005-2009

Alliance Francaise

Sydney, New South Wales

5,034 m 2

Concrete Structure

Conceptual Framework
The Alliance Française Centre is the last commercial building designed by Harry Seidler. He held to the principal convictions of modern architecture influenced by the Baroque.

This influence can be seen in the curved forms of the glass façade and beam at the ground floor, the prominent curved in plan and elevation awning, the circular staircase in the three storey void giving a vital interactive and vibrant heart to the successful community atmosphere of the organization. The roof configuration recalls these curvilinear forms.

Public and Cultural Benefits
Alliance Française is a recognised educational institution as well as a cultural organization which now exhibits not only French art but also architecture due to our collaborations of the project. The basement is multifunctional but is designed as a Place Of Public Entertainment for public benefit.

Relationship of Built Form to Context
The building height was determined not by statuary requirements but by the scale of surrounding buildings to ensure that the streetscape was compatible. The street façade has been indented with balconies and vertical sun louvres to relate to the street texture.

Program Resolution
The developer/builder required an economically viable building.
The planning has been kept simple and functional with virtual column free space to achieve flexibility for unknown future subdivisions between 50 m 2 and 250 m 2.

Although the restricted site has only one free street frontage, windows have been located on all facades where adjoining buildings allow outlook and natural light.

Art in the building

  • Seidler mural rug from the Marcus Seidler house
  • Digital-art glass by French artist Marc Rambaud
  • Reproduction of Paysage by Joan Miro. Seidler helped the National Gallery of Australia to bring this to Australia.

The full height tinted double glazing windows to Clarence Street have vertical external louvres to minimise the solar heat load. The building employed the newest air-gap insulation product to maximise usable area.

The engineer’s Computer Simulation Report illustrates an ABGR rating for the building of 5 stars for the base model and 4.5 stars even if the building is not used in the way that was originally intended and the energy performance of the building may be degraded.