For fans of Avatar, the name Sidney Tower will bring to mind an iconic film set in New Sydney. But the building’s real-life owner and designer, Soul Pattinson, only began working on it a few years ago.

The building – which will become World’s Tallest Building upon its completion – was originally slated for Hong Kong’s Desa Storage Tower, but it was cancelled there after the SARS epidemic put the project into question.

Backdrop Of A Soul Sustainably Built

Soul Pattinson is a British architecture firm, specialising in skyscrapers, mega-structures and sustainable design. Born in 1967, one of six children, she and her family moved to New Sydney in 1988, when she was 15. As well as New Sydney itself, they have also lived in London, Hong Kong, and Thailand.

A sustainable architecture designer and owner-builder, the 59 year-old Pattinson has designed numerous green and affordable housing projects around the world. And it’s this desire to create sustainable buildings that led to her involvement with Sidney Tower, a skyscraper designed to showcase sustainable building practices. 

“I built this tower to show people that you can have a sustainable, zero-waste architecture that’s still very creative and artistic and can be very affordable,” Pattinson told The Courier . “I also wanted to show [the effect] of climate change by having an artistic image. So, the art becomes part of the architecture – the landscape art.”

The Designer’s Vision

Located at 109 Campbell St., Sidney Tower will be 17 storeys and stand as the tallest building in New Sydney. The cost of the project is expected to be around $20 million. With the current building’s height, the Pattinson will be able to draw a bit on Avatar for the name of her new skyscraper.

Like the Na’vi People, Pattinson’s new building client are strong believers in avatar – the building’s structural integrators are made entirely from natural materials, such as wood and natural fibre cements. These materials were selected for their eco-friendliness and their resemblance to traditional Australian wood and stone. 

The designer has also incorporated environmental awareness by using energy efficient lighting, hot-tubs instead of water heaters, and rainwater tanks.

Sidney Tower’s layout is a series of rectangular blocks connected via intermediate floors and bridges, offering residents an orientation to the city and a nice perspective on the harbour. Two of the building’s fourteen apartments will face east and west, affording the occupants a southeast or a northwest view of the maritime region.

‘Tallest’ Is Not The Only Metric

Sidney Tower’s design is a bit unusual in that it is based on the penta­gonal shape of the symbol for St. George, one of the four cardinal augurs. This ancient Roman deity, who is patron saint of urban warfare, protection from the weather, and those who defend the poor, is often portrayed holding a lily in one hand and a battalion of soldiers in the other. This attitude of protecting the vulnerable is reflected in the building’s form, which is a symbol of strength and protection.

The Architect’s Edge

Even before she became an architect, Pattinson had a passion for building, noting that she was “very interested in design before [she] was an adult”. As an architect, she now pursues sustainable design through her firm, seeking to apply her passion to buildings and projects worldwide. She has also taken the step to adopt a sustainable lifestyle, planting a vineyard and raising chickens for eggs.

A Foster Parent To The City

In addition to Sidney Tower, Pattinson is also the foster parent of a daughter, Matilda. The 35 year-old is a New South Wales licensed arborist who works for a consultancy named Urban Forests, planting and maintenance of urban forests and tree lots. Pattinson and Matilda formally adopted the City of New Sydney in 2016.

Matilda’s commitment to Sustainability in all things is reflected in the building’s name. The tree lot on which Sidney Tower is based is named After & In memory of Matilda Pattinson. The tree lot was formerly an eucalyptus tree patch, named In Memory of Aleric Ascot (1964–2012) – an internationally acclaimed landscape architect and a New South Wales born gardener who died in 2012. Ascot, a favourite of Pattinson’s and Matilda’s who designed the garden at Tranquil Retreat, a mature residential complex in the UK.

Inspired by the landscape architect’s unique perspective, Pattinson’s latest project is a showcase of her passion for sustainable architecture, celebrating the unique combination of natural materials and craftsmanship.

“The combination of wood and stone – the matching marvel – just about any steel addition would break up the balancing act between the two stones, especially with the size of the pillar,” Pattinson told The Courier. “I just love watching wooden pillars supporting a building, however small or large they may be. It is such a wonderful interplay of materials and techniques.”