Sensitive Brutalist- Sydney

Town Hall House is a flawless example of Sydney Brutalist architecture. Designed by Ancher, Mortlock and Woolley in 1977, the 23-storey tower was built behind Sydney Town Hall to provide a central location for Sydney Council. The building now accommodates approximately one thousand City of Sydney staff and is a high profile element of the City’s corporate presentation and customer service ethos.
Smart Design Studio was engaged by the City of Sydney to refurbish nine floors of the iconic building. The brief was to revitalise the key public and staff areas of these floors, promoting the City’s commitment to environmentally sustainable design, while also providing a sensitive response to the fabric of both the original building and to Sydney Town Hall itself.
One of the Council’s primary objectives was to re engage with their customers and visitors to Town Hall House. Smart Design Studio envisaged the public spaces of the lower levels as internal laneways connecting busy Sydney Square, Druitt and Kent Streets.
Significant elements of the original building fabric have also been brought back to life: the beautiful sandstone colonnade of the heritage-listed Sydney Town Hall, previously enclosed and hidden away, was opened up as part of the City Model exhibition space; and the original curved stairway connecting Level 1 and 2 lobbies was reinstated with sensitive brass and stone detailing.
The upgrade has been registered as a 5-green star project, implementing energy-efficient digital lighting throughout, recycled and Green Building Council certified materials. The nature of the existing building fabric was also carefully considered; to complement the concrete and stone interior of the existing Brutalist architecture the design features custom light fittings and warm materials such as timber. An open ceiling and lighting grid has been used to define the public spaces, the exposed nature of which reflects both the honest quality of Brutalist design and the Council’s objectives.

Photos Ross Honeysett

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