Doubling as a front door to the Sydney CBD, Brookfield Place Sydney has been reinvigorated by Make Architects and Architectus to give an account of the harbour city like no other. A mixed-use scheme that includes the revitalisation of the pedestrian Transit Hall on George Street for Wynyard Station, the project demonstrates the benefits of urban densification.
Brookfield Place is effectively the entry and exit point to Wynyard Station. Before the project was undertaken by Make and Architectus, passengers made their way in and out of the station via concourse passageways that ran either side of a central core which felt dark and unwelcoming. From the beginning, Make endeavoured to unlock the potential of the site by raising and suspending the central core, using mega-columns in the boundary walls to support the building’s shear load, much like the flying buttresses of a Gothic cathedral.
The project unites four previously separate sites in the former Menzies Hotel, Thakral House, and the retained Shell House and Beneficial House, assembling them into one reinvigorated block that rises out of the reconfigured transit hall of Wynyard Station. The ground plane has been altered completely, making public space a priority.
The decision to ‘hang’ the building’s core has resulted in a triple-height ‘Urban Hall’ filled with daylight, transforming the arrival experience for visitors and commuters. This space now acts as a sweeping new front door for Sydney’s commuters in a scale commensurate with Wynyard Station’s status as one of the CBD’s busiest transit hubs. It also provides a new pedestrian route from George Street through to Carrington Street and Wynyard Park beyond, right underneath the offices as before, but this time across the full 25 metre width of the site. The hanging core itself has been celebrated – clad in almond gold stainless steel with vertical glazing, it stands out against the GRC-coffered ceiling and provides views into the commercial lift lobby from below and vice versa.
Brookfield Place now plays host to 75,000m2 of premium office and retail space, upgraded multi-modal transport links, new and renewed public connections that prioritise the pedestrian, and two restored and fully-integrated heritage buildings. Simon Lincoln, Make Architects Asia Pacific Director, says the practice was intent on piecing together a precinct that would be inviting to both its occupants and those who travel through the building to utilise public transport facilities.
“We are so proud of what has been achieved at Brookfield Place Sydney. This is a true mixed-use project which really demonstrates what urban densification can deliver, merging transport with retail and commercial and F&B to deliver a dynamic environment that benefits from the mix of uses and draws people in and through. Indeed, the design hinges upon this principle, and the key design move of suspending the core was all about prioritising that. It was a true collaborative team effort and leaves a great legacy for Sydney.”
The George Street elevation focuses on the public, with the station entrance flanked by flagship retail and escalators leading down to a lower-concourse food hall and the transport interchange. The Carrington Street elevation is home to the commercial office entrance, which is home to a different perspective facing Wynyard Park, with a nod to the street’s history as a prime location for large corporate headquarters in the 1920s, and to current aspirations to return the address to its former glory.
Each glazed panel of the tower’s facade is defined by bronze-coloured anodised aluminium fins to emphasise the verticality of the scheme. The fins vary in depth to respond to different solar shading requirements on each elevation.
The facade of the 10-storey Shell House has been fully restored. The 400-tonne clock tower was retained as a centrepiece of the building’s historic character, and a new public rooftop restaurant and bar, housed in two glazed pavilions, will bring public F&B to the rooftop for the first time. Over 3,000 sandstone-coloured faience tiles were replaced with new tiles hand-moulded by specialist craftsmen.
The south elevation has been retained and restored, and it is here that it joins with the new commercial tower, with internal entrances punched through into the tower’s 10-storey atrium. Merging the two has delivered flexible floorplates of up to 3,200m2, which are among the largest in Sydney.
The Grade A commercial spaces have maximised flexibility and adaptability, from collaborative workspaces to trading floors. The design integrates 21st-century technology and prioritises wellbeing, with views of Wynyard Park and the tree canopy providing biophilic benefits. The entrance is marked by a double-height sculptural veranda, which echoes Sydney’s architectural heritage. Stepping inside, elements like a ribbon staircase and a Calacatta marble floor and walls, laid to simulate a continuous seam cut from the quarry, exemplify the level of quality.
Robert Ousey, Architectus Principal and National Transport Sector Lead, says that creating the new precinct has been one the practice took on with great interest.
“It has been a privilege to work with Brookfield Properties and Make Architects on this transformational project in the heart of Sydney. Brookfield Place Sydney has been thoughtfully stitched into the fabric of the city and for the first time provides public access to the iconic Shell House clocktower via a rooftop restaurant and public space. The public transport interface and retail amenity has been transformed to the highest quality and new public through-site links established. Brookfield Place Sydney is truly a premium office location and reinvigorates the wider precinct surrounding Wynyard Station.”
For more information on the project, head to makearchitects.com/projects/wynyard-place.