Not many commercial buildings in Sydney’s CBD can boast a 2020 completion date. But one boutique office building, situated at 275 George Street, forged through to cut the ribbon and stake its future in shifting sands.
April 28th, 2021
The goal posts were already moving as Architectus embarked on the architecture and interior design of 275 George, a premium boutique office project developed by John Holland and completed in December of 2020.
In the greater Sydney CBD, a strong agenda around design excellence had set the long-term conditions for new commercial development that could really serve the public domain. Meanwhile, the phenomenon of the pandemic brought to the fore rather urgent conversations around the future purpose and role of commercial office space.
Against this backdrop arrived 275 George Street. The original site, hemmed in by George and Margaret Streets, was demolished to make way for a new build. The vision: to remedy many of the existing building issues – not least of all the leaky facades and a constrained column grid – with an A-grade, column-free workplace that delivered modern servicing and high-end hospitality-standard amenities.
Foremost in the minds of Architectus principal, Colin Odbert and Architectus associate, Terrence Chau, was the question of how tenants would utilise the spaces. The fact that it was a smaller building was a natural advantage. It would appeal to a niche commercial tenant who was not in want of “acres of space” but looking for a presence with distinct identity, and the convenience of location.
“Knowing this,” says Odbert, “we were able to adapt the story of the building to what we foresaw tenants needing, when life returned to some sort of normal.”
That sense of community and individual engagement played strongly into Architectus’ design approach. Part of its design response was to speak to the site’s context and heritage features. Where many of the surrounding towers have set-backs, 275 George is toe-to-toe with the sidewalks. Drawing the public in, the ground and first levels feature active retail with large shop fronts and picture windows.
As you move up the length of the building’s 15 levels, the façade shifts into sandstone (locally sourced and featuring engraved line work of Canberra-based artist, Hannah Quinlivan), and glass. The heritage components to the west of the site worked as a ‘datum’ for the mezzanine of level 14 and Architectus has used this opportunity shift the materiality into bronze plating with glazing.
As Sydney workers gradually shifted out of the home office and back into the workplace, Architectus was putting the finishing touches to a lobby and bathroom facilities that were distinctly hospitality in look and feel.
“It’s a small building for a different market, we didn’t want it to look and feel the same. As such, the bathrooms feel more fine dining or hotel-like, [than your average bathroom]. And the lobby has quality materiality touches, taking it away from the standard glass and stainless steel,” says Odbert.
When it came to the tenancies, a key consideration was access to natural light and a generous sense of space. These “no brainer” requirements really dictated the design approach, and fed into that sense of considered, curated spaces for a discerning clientele.
With flexibility and convenience a cornerstone of its amenity, 275 George has become a drawcard for those elements of ‘community’’ and ‘collaboration’ we see enticing workers back into the CBD and office place.
It just goes to show that no matter the times, “there is always a role for commercial office space. The fact that it will always evolve and always change is a given,” says Odbert.
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