The World Square precinct – once dubbed Sydney’s “worst black hole” by then lord mayor Frank Sartor – has become one of Australia’s busiest retail strips in recent years.
The shopping centre is jointly owned by property group ISPT and boutique investment house Arcadia.
Under the proposal, each glass shelf would contain a LED screen, illuminated at night to create a “river effect”. Aluminium fins would be suspended below the shelves.
“The canopy itself is a piece of public art, with the fins having been inspired by the art of Doreen Reid Nakamarra,” the statement of effects said.
Nakamarra, who died in 2009, was a celebrated Aboriginal painter from the Western Desert area, with her works exhibited in Moscow, London and New York.
Visualisations would be curated to illuminate the canopy at night, in consultation with artists, cultural and community groups, creative institutions and universities.
Choices would be guided by the “cultures and social communities that live and celebrate in the area, including Chinatown, Korea-town, and Thai-town”, according to the plans.
The plans do not comply with a section of the council’s development control plan, which requires “through site links” to be open to the sky.
But the plans argue the canopy would allow the plaza to receive sky views, while providing a protective barrier to rain and “strong winds” and “wind funelling” affecting the area.
“This is to the benefit of the thousands of local residents, workers, shoppers and commuters who pass through the plaza on a daily basis,” the plans said.
The demolition of an existing staircase, awnings, planters and public art sculptures has been requested as part of the proposal.
Carrie Fellner is an investigative reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.