86-88 George Street

CIty of Sydney
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This refurbishment of a state listed heritage building has set a new benchmark for contemporary work in Sydney's historic Rocks precinct. The existing building is in two parts, both of which have heritage listings with the heritage fabric consisting only of the perimeter walls. The project therefore emerged from graphic illustrations of the extent of heritage fabric which resulted in two key interventions - one inside the existing walls and one outside - became the primary areas of focus. Internally, the foyer was conceived as a bridge that leaves George Street to connect with the existing lift core. Initial investigations of a Scarperian 'tub' (Murphy) gradually evolved into a singular folded concrete tube that provides a dramatic 'pause' between street and office. Externally, an existing triangular remnant of street configurations was developed into a new public space, understood as part of the complex cut and folded landscapes characteristic of the Rocks area. A small canopy sits in the north-east corner of the space which has similarly evolved from a mapping of sun, wind and tenant use requirements. While the materiality of this canopy ties it to the Harbour Bridge and other steelwork interventions in the Rocks, its scale renders it with a 'toy'-like quality (Schaik, Timms). The project's significance is evidence in its numerous awards for design and sustainability: the Environ BPN Sustainability Award; the Energy Australia National Trust Heritage Award for Conservation Energy Management and as the first State heritage listed building to be awarded a 5 star Green Star office design rating.
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