A night in the high roller's vacuum cleaner, a meal in the bamboo bowl? Sydney adds to list of nicknamed architectural icons

A night in the high roller's vacuum cleaner, a meal in the bamboo bowl? Sydney adds to list of nicknamed architectural icons
A night in the high roller's vacuum cleaner, a meal in the bamboo bowl? Sydney adds to list of nicknamed architectural icons

Australia is set to add to the list of quirky architectural icons given unintended nicknames following James Packer’s proposed 60-storey Barangaroo South casino development receiving the amber light from the NSW state government this week.

A Property Observer reader has suggested the project (pictured below) looks remarkably similar to an old-fashioned vacuum cleaner, such as the Hoover dial-a-matic. The winning bid for the $1.2 billion development was designed by British-based firm Wilkinson Eyre, who more than likely did not have carpet cleaning in mind when they began drafting ideas.


Another Barangaroo project to attract attention and a possible new nickname is the low rise visually-striking bamboo clad restaurant complex on the waterfront promenade.

Designed by architects Collins and Turner, it resembles stacked bamboo bowls.

The design of the building (pictured below) will be submitted to the Barangaroo Delivery Authority for approval prior to being submitted to the NSW Department of Planning as part of the statutory planning process.


Australia has long played its part in this worldwide nick-naming phenomenon, with one of its most recognisable landmarks, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, built in 1932, nicknamed the “coat-hanger” given its semi-circular arch design (It was also nicknamed the “Iron Lung” in the 1930s for providing employment to Depression-era workers).



Some less well-known nicknames have been applied to other Sydney land marks.

The Sydney Opera house is sometimes called the “nun’s scrum” alluding to the curved white roof shapes resembling the headdresses of religious sisters.


Just to the right of the Opera house, the modern apartments, retail and entertainment complexes of northern Macquarie Street, much derided by Sydneysiders, have attracted the unflattering moniker of “the toaster” building.


In Stockholm, there are plans to transform one of its skyscrapers into a “strawscraper” by adding “electricity-generating bristles” or “plastic hairs”. The tower in question is Henning Larsen’s Söder Torn tower on Södermalm in Stockholm. It is designed by architects Belatchew with a wind farm that will top the existing building with a 16-story extension, covering the facade with “hairy-looking plastic straws designed to move with the wind” according to the architectural firm’s own description. To Property Observer’ keen eye, we suggest it resembles a winter fur coat.


Image courtesy of archdaily.com

Of course there are many famous existing landmarks around the world that have earned nicknames, some not so flattering.

There is London’s “The Gherkin” building (pictured below) designed by British architect Sir Norman Foster as the headquarters for reinsurance firm Swiss Re with its distinctive spiralling glass-covered design over an oblong cylindrical shape. Officially, it is called 30 St Mary Axe, rising to 41 stories and opened in 2004.



Perhaps the most famously nicknamed building is the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan, which has been likened to a toilet bowl and also a hangar for flying sauces. It opened in 1959, 10 years after the famous architect’s death.


A few buildings with nicknames you may not have heard of include the Clyde auditorium in Glasgow, Scotland, also designed by Sir Norman Foster, which is called ‘the Armadillo’ for obvious reasons:


And how about the Absolute World residential condominium twin tower complex in Mississauga, Ontario named the "Marilyn Monroe" due to them apparently resembling the Hollywood actress’s famously curvaceous figure. Not sure she'd agree.


And of course, there's London's The Shard, resembling a shard of glass and designed by architect Renzo Piano.



Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer


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