Make transforms 1970s block into sustainable new boutique commercial premises

by Anthea Belessis
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Photography by Brett Boardman

Make Architects has completed work on a bespoke renovation of a 2,876 m 2 1970s office building on Carrington Street, in Sydney’s CBD, for Brookfield Properties. The result is the transformation of a dated concrete-framed building into an important new urban amenity – an exemplar for sustainability in refurbishment.

The original 10-storey building, overlooking Wynyard Park and adjacent to the Wynyard transport interchange – itself undergoing a radical reinvention by Make Architects - was unattractive to today’s commercial tenants. Brookfield briefed Make to create a high quality boutique office that prioritised flexibility.

 

Minimising waste · Maximising efficiency

The focus behind the refurbishment involved retaining the majority of the existing concrete structure, which while structurally sound was difficult to work with. The team has taken what was basic 1970s commercial stock and significantly upgraded it, transforming the appearance and internal experience to create a bespoke range of flexible and highly efficient open-plan office floorplates. 

Only the most constrained elements of the structure were removed, and the targeted demolition allowed massive reductions in demolition waste and tonnes of construction material savings. 

From Carrington Street, the building has been reinvented. Referencing the punched windows of the adjacent listed Lisgar House, Make has installed three floor-to-ceiling window bays per floor, with anodised aluminium reveals gradually projecting outwards at the upper levels and contrasting with the dark charcoal grey brick that now anchors the building. At the tenth floor, the windows culminate in dramatic double-height bays. 

Simon Lincoln, Make Architects’ Sydney Director, said: “We were tenants here before work began and so knew the potential for the building. Clearly the major conceptual innovation was to understand that the original building could be kept and reused, and the project stands as an important benchmark for what can be achieved when redeveloping an existing urban site, particularly when one considers the city’s increasingly ageing building stock. 

“Such projects are likely to play an important role in extending the life of existing structures while providing valuable savings in the use of energy and resources. For a boutique development, the building has achieved a 40% pre-let for Brookfield, which is a huge confidence boost for their investment in the wider reinvention of the area.”

 

Enlivened streetscape 

The scheme enhances activity and interest at street level by offering an enriched mix of uses. On Carrington Street a double-height entrance lobby and retail units animate the streetscape, while on Wynyard Lane there is space for a bar or restaurant and access to a basement unit, which itself has potential for a speakeasy bar. 

Make Architects’ interior design concept centres on transitioning from light to dark, with lift lobbies and amenity spaces conceived as minimalist sculptural boxes clad in grey laminate and smoked oak veneer. The entrance sequence surprises with a bright, double-height lobby entrance clad in bead-blasted stainless steel, followed by a secondary reception space, more domestic in feel, with smoked oak veneer linings and black leather banquette seating. Throughout, the concrete slab has been left exposed, as have the existing beams and services, providing authenticity to the expression and experience of the building and linking back to the key design focus for the project. 

Reusing so much of the existing building has significantly enhanced the building’s energy efficiency in use through the specification of highly insulated cladding systems and the adoption of updated services to provide heating and cooling within the offices. The deep reveals around the double-glazed windows provide solar shading. 29 cycle spaces and associated amenities have also been included. The building is to informally target a NABERS rating. 

Brookfield Properties Development Manager, Rebecca McKee, said: “The completion of 36 Carrington Street heralds the beginning of a new era for Wynyard which is on its way to becoming a premier office and retail destination at the heart of the Sydney CBD. The 36 Carrington project exemplifies Brookfield Properties’ commitment to excellence in everything we do, big and small, and will be another important linkage in the broader Wynyard precinct.”

Photography by Brett Boardman

 

Photography by Brett Boardman

 

Photography by Brett Boardman

 

Photography by Brett Boardman

 

Photography by Brett Boardman

 

Photography by Brett Boardman

 

Photography by Brett Boardman

 

Photography by Brett Boardman

 

Photography by Brett Boardman

 

Photography by Brett Boardman

 

Photography by Brett Boardman

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