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ClientNSW/ACT Independent Education Union
Date2012
Location Ultimo, NSW

Vacant since the ‘70s, the Briscoe Building exhibited two significant historical features that informed the interior design: the building shell and its contents. The shell is a three-storey Romanesque-detailed federation brick warehouse whose structure consists of substantially-sized timber columns, supporting beams, joists and an elaborate array of herringbone strutting. The contents consist of the original stair and hydraulic goods lift. These two historical features paved the way for a two-part design philosophy.

The shell adopted a ‘don’t touch’ philosophy which brought about the Russian Dolls Detailing. A heritage shell surrounding freestanding pods and old volumes encapsulating new volumes; clean, simplistic detailing, respecting the historic environs in which they are placed.

Implementation of ‘pods’ with perimeter circulation retains a contemporary sense of openness, while democratising daylight was accomplished with common-wall office glazing. Each office embraces substantial integrated storage to increase efficiency and flexibility. The entire build is an exercise in minimalism, utilising the existing shell to its maximum potential. New build materials have been kept to a bare minimum, while new life has been successfully breathed into a 110 year old building.