Make Architects’ Sydney office has collaborated with BAR Studio to restore and remodel the former Department of Education building located in the historic Sandstone Precinct just 400m from Sydney Harbour. The building dating back to 1912 reopened earlier this year as the 5-star Capella Sydney hotel.  It is the first Australian property for the luxury hospitality brand: Capella Hotels and Resorts.

Project Name: Capella Sydney Hotel
Studio Name: Make Architects

Capella Sydney Hotel by Make Architects - Sheet4
©Make Architects

Make Architects was appointed by Pontiac Land Group to reimagine this civic landmark as a dynamic hotel with a strong connection to the city, welcoming not only Capella Sydney guests but Sydney residents to its generous public spaces, bars and restaurants.   The design team also needed to sensitively accommodate 192 guest rooms with the rest of the hospitality offer.

This was achieved by working with the distinct character of the Edwardian Baroque-style governmental architecture of the original building and by significantly opening the ground floor to be fully accessible to the public for the first time.  BAR Studio worked together with Make to ensure that the new and old elements of the project complemented one another.

Capella Sydney Hotel by Make Architects - Sheet7
©Make Architects

The team also worked closely with consultants and stakeholders, including Heritage NSW and the City of Sydney.   As a result, the grandeur of the original early 20th century revival architecture – with its Florentine-Palazzo style sandstone facade and marble-clad vestibules –  is preserved.

The former gallery on the sixth floor of the building has been transformed into the award-winning Auriga Spa with a 20m swimming pool, fitness suite and treatment rooms. Four additional storeys have been added to the building. This modern roof-top extension has been set back to respect the original sandstone structure.  The new extension levels above have presented Make with an opportunity to reimagine the roofscape. Designed as a “fifth elevation”, it now makes a positive contribution to the cityscape. Bespoke perforated screens and fluted cladding conceal the plant and services on the roof.

Make’s Project Architect, Michelle Evans, says: “We’re proud to be involved in this once-in-a-generation project for the city.

Capella Sydney Hotel by Make Architects - Sheet9
©Make Architects

Art is an important element in the team’s vision for the project.  There are around 2,000 artworks across the building.  These pieces have been both acquired for Sydney Capella and commissioned especially to complement the overall design narrative creating a continuum between past and present. Stewart Robertson, co-founder and Creative Director of BAR Studio, sums up.


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