Thomas Street Cloud Gate

The Cloud Gate is part of a City of Sydney project for Thomas Street aiming to recognise the past and present cultural identity of Haymarket through architecture, place design and public art. It does this while maintaining the teeming, informal and open street life that makes Chinatown such a lively and cherished urban place. This project was a close collaboration with JILA and artist Lindy Lee.

The Cloud Gate site, at the northern end of Thomas Street, was previously a harbour edge. As reclaimed land the site has a calm, horizontal condition. The expressive corner treatments of Sydney Markets, Market Stores and The Coffee Palace were all part of an ambitious Sydney Council from 1908, by City Architect Broderick – and they physically define the site.

In ancient Chinese philosophy, water has enormous symbolic value as it has three states – solid, liquid and vapour. Clouds are the vapour aspect of water and are revered because they embody change, transience and impermanence. The Cloud Gate holds the urban space of the north end of Thomas Street and maintains axial view lines along the street to the anchoring buildings at each end:

The positioning of the muscular support columns reinforces the street geometry;
The columns respect the rhythm of openings of the markets building;
Catenary cables and fixings act as a background to the “floating” cloud discs;
Paired layers of domed perforated discs filter sunlight during the day;
And gently reflect light at night;
The play of sunlight will have a rich variability, changing through out the day and seasons.