With its Inter-war Gothic style, State heritage-listed St Stephen’s Uniting Church has been an architectural landmark on Sydney’s Macquarie Street since 1934. Commissioned by the developer of the neighbouring commercial tower gave us the chance to reveal to the community the long-hidden southern façade of the Church.
The recently completed 60 Martin Place is one of Sydney’s leading commercial towers. At the heart of the CBD’s financial district it dwarfs many of its neighbours, including St Stephen’s Uniting Church, which it dramatically cantilevers over to make the most of views north across the city and towards Sydney Harbour.
Leading the heritage consultation role, we worked closely with the architects (Hassel) and builders (Lendlease) to present this hidden façade in a whole new light, revealing its southern elevation to the public for the first time, and showcasing its presence as an integral part of the new tower’s design.
The church’s southern facade forms the stunning backdrop, visible through the glass of the main entry hall of 60 Martin Place. The rendered brickwork, sandstone, traditional joinery and stained glass create a striking juxtaposition with the contemporary architecture framing it – a contrast that’s very Sydney in character.
To help the facade shine, physical repair and conservation works to the church were undertaken. Always a painstaking process, meticulously undertaken by conservation specialists, part of our work was to help manage expectations of the project team, whose primary focus and experience is in the design and construction of contemporary commercial towers.
By communicating the significant cultural values of St Stephen’s Uniting Church to the team, and the extraordinary benefits they bring to the design of the new tower, the result was the perfect combination of heritage and innovation working in harmony. And perhaps the biggest feat of all was assisting in managing the restoration work on a live construction site, alongside marriages, funerals and regular church services, continuing largely undisturbed throughout.