Retaining and Reclaiming – Darlinghurst Workplace by BVN
A reimagination of an ageing industrial building into a contemporary office for a modern company, Darlinghurst Workplace reclaims a new identity – one of creativity, vibrancy and culture. BVN adopts a layered approach to create a hub that speaks to both the suburb’s past and its modern identity.
Nestled on a semi-residential street where the high-rise buildings of Sydney’s CBD merge into quaint rows of terrace houses, Darlinghurst Workplace aims to replicate this distinct urban inner-city junction in its design. A thoughtful renovation sees the re-structuring of three levels of a near-century-old former car garage to accommodate a workforce of 300 people.
Integral to the richness of the Darlinghurst Workplace is the way BVN retains the history of the original building. Built during the 1920s, the brick warehouse has had many identities – a car garage and, most recently, commercial offices with multiple tenancies. As such, BVN made sure to retain the character of the building as much as possible by drawing on the raw simplicity of its structure and form.
Original concrete floors, soffits and masonry walls are stripped back to expose their raw natural state. Holding onto as much as is feasible of the building’s original façade also reveals an environmentally and economically conscious brief that reflects the values of the company working within its walls.
While the exterior façade is kept intact, new additions only elevate the building. A top story was added using cross-laminated timber, and the addition of a skylight welcomes essential natural light deep into the building. A full-height void now pierces the centre of the building, encouraging collaboration, as does an open stair and the communal break-out space overlooking the void. Communal spaces are intentionally located on the middle floor to encourage movement between levels. There is a gym, a theatre-style meeting room that features tiered seating with colourful beanbags, and an open kitchen that leads to an expansive terrace with views across Darlinghurst’s historic laneways and out to the city skyline.
Renewed interiors are timeless and robust, reflecting both the building’s industrial past and the contemporary vision of its new inhabitants. A sculptural installation by American artist Nick Cave, Spinner Forest, is made of 480 kinetic spinners, cascading from and complementing the skylight to fill and animate the central void.
A warm material palette, including cross-laminated timber columns and pine batten ceilings, dominates throughout, while perforated metal balustrades offer a nod to the building’s past. The vibrant workspace culture the company embodies is realised through the scattering of colourful furnishings and finishes.
Drawing on the culture of the new inhabitants of the space, BVN paves an exciting chapter in the building’s story. An embodiment of the modern office, Darlinghurst Workplace facilitates more than just work, but rather collaboration, creativity, mindfulness and wellbeing, in a beautiful and engaging way.