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Chinatown Kiosk

Conversion of the seating pagoda in Dixon Street to an information kiosk to service Chinatown called for a sympathetic and contextual design. The design approach is to treat the new enclosure as a patterned red lantern by day which is illuminated by night.

The Pagoda roof and lantern sit on a base that is level with the footpath to the south-east, providing accessible access and a plinth to the north-west that resolves the steeply sloping Goulburn Street footpath. The lantern is inserted inside the existing pagoda structure and is clearly understood as a new volume. It consists of 2 semi-circular volumes that are clad with patterned, curved glass; the pattern was created by paper-cut artist Pamela Mei-Leng See with cultural reference to the Chinese community including flowers, fish and birds. The sliding semi-circle of glass screens open to reveal a hot red interior that houses a wall of shelving for brochures, pamphlets and tourist information. The lantern sits to the side of pedestrianised Dixon Street and is experienced in the round. The program for the information kiosk is to provide a comfortable space that functions well as a place from which to distribute tourist information. While quite small, the well-being of the staff was paramount. They are protected from westerly sun and enjoy good cross ventilation. The circular joinery within the lantern houses pamphlet storage, computer equipment, switchboard and a small fridge; every available space is utilised. Sustainability measures include natural ventilation, day-lighting, recyclable materials and the sole use of LED light fittings.

?The success of this project is the result of a combined effort by both the consultant team and the many contractors: while a small-scale project it has high ambition. The level of co-ordination required to achieve the illumination is a testament to prototyping, effort and the will to achieve the outcome. We will be forever grateful to the team for the effort made by each participant which went beyond the usual scope of work.?? The City of Sydney is making a difference to the public domain of Sydney streets by instigating improvements such as this lantern/information kiosk. It responds to the Chinese community by integrating an artwork onto the red lantern concept done by a well-known Chinese artist. The community's identity is expressed in an exuberant way and is a popular meeting point already in Dixon Street.


Vince Frost

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