How Charlie Parker and his creative collaborators are invigorating Harris Park

The Sydney suburb of Harris Park is fast earning a reputation as the Surry Hills of the west. For a long time, the culturally diverse area located next to busy Parramatta has quietly existed as a hidden gem. However, its many attractive features, such as restaurants, shops and its great location, have brought a renewed focus to the suburb. 06-11-2017

This increased attention has led to a regeneration of the area, particularly around housing development. One new residential project – Charlie Parker (named for the two streets it is positioned on, Charles and Parkes Streets) – is a boutique 22-storey development comprising just 111 apartments, as well as an open-air pool and gym on the terrace level.

Johnathan Redman is a Principal with the architects fjmt and designed the development. He says the curved and sculptured design of Charlie Parker represents a fusion of Parramatta’s CBD and the Harris Park environment. “We were interested in creating a sculptural form for the building that included many curves, including a curved rooftop,” he says. “It borrows from the art deco era, which is known for its attention to detail. This is what you find at Charlie Parker as you move through the building – it’s a very rich internal environment throughout, whether it’s in the public spaces, such as the lobbies, or within the apartments.” The curved glass on the outside of the building is carried into the residences. “Here the glass is full height; floor to ceiling in all the apartments,” Redman says. “What we wanted to create was the feeling that the whole world is spread out in front of you.” He adds the glass is designed so there is no need for sunshades to control the sun. “The sunlight is controlled through other means,” he says. “This adds to the uninterrupted outlook.”

The attention to detail is also reflected in the interior design, which Redman says is more premium than what you’d find in other apartments of this size. “There are timber floors that run throughout and finely detailed joinery in the kitchen, bedroom and living spaces,” he says. Jason Soulos, Sales Director with Coronation Property, says while the architecture is exceptional, what really gives Charlie Parker its unique character and is set to make it a neighbourhood favourite is the artwork. “Rather than taking a cookie cutter approach to the development, we worked with a number of artists to not only make it stand out but to help invigorate Harris Park itself,” he says. “The artwork gives the building and area a playful character and shows that Charlie Parker is more than a building. The artists we’ve collaborated with are internationally renown and their work emphasises that this building should also be recognised as art.” Coronation also collaborated with Durie Design – headed by award-winning landscape designer Jamie Durie for the exteriors. “Jamie excels in bringing the outside in,” Soulos says. “For this development he’s also been instrumental in working on designs for our curved terrace level, which features an open-air pool, fully equipped gym and relaxation area that features a number of the curated artworks on display.” Soulos says the building evokes a sense of harmony. “Everything from the tiling to the interior palette to the curved exteriors harmonises in a way that is seamless to the person from the time they walk into the lobby to the time they spend in their apartment,” he says. “And the suburb of Harris Park is invigorated as a result.”

Contemporary artists such as Elliot “Numskull” Routledge and Shannon Crees have created a number of artworks including a 80-metre mural, while husband and wife team Gillie and Marc created a character called Charlie Parker, a half-man, half-elephant statue, which is being used to promote Harris Park and the development in the unique marketing campaign. Gillie and Marc were first approached by Coronation when the company was developing its vision for the Charlie Parker building. “They had this wonderful idea about creating a character who’d embody everything this development stands for: creativity, self-expression and an appreciation of the finer things in life,” Gillie says. “We loved the concept, and from there, [our character] Charlie Parker was born.” Marc adds that he and Gillie are huge advocates of public art. “We feel that if architecture is the body of a place, then art is the heart and soul,” he says. “People have always embraced public art as a way of sharing stories, right back to ancient times – and that’s certainly what we aim to do today.”