Weaving past and present
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Weaving past and present

Capella Sydney Hotel

Make Architects | Bar Studio

Weaving past and present
By Editorial Staff -

The first Australian hotel of the Capella Hotels and Resort Group stands just a few steps from the celebrated Sydney Opera House, within an original 1912 building, formerly the headquarters of the New South Wales Department of Education. Protected thanks to its historic value, the building was restored and transformed into a five-star hotel by the architectural studio Make Architects, with the interior design curated by Bar Studio.

The building still has its original Edwardian Baroque-style sandstone façade, with three different architectural orders: a sandstone ashlar at the base, topped by a smooth facing that extends for several floors and a final crowning element. Above the existing volume, the project saw the creation of a new 4-story extension with bespoke fluted anodized metal fins and curved glass corners, designed to unify the hotel with the surrounding urban context, which is characterized by skyscrapers with glass curtain walls.

Capella Sydney Hotel | © Timothy Kaye, courtesy Make Architects e Bar Studio La scalinata originale di accesso, restaurata e affiancata da pareti rivestite in marmo ornate con bacheche e cornici in ottone, guida il visitatore in un percorso temporale che inizia dall’ingresso storico dell’edificio e giunge fino al presente nella corte interna.

The experience of the Capella Sydney Hotel can be considered a journey through time, starting at the marble vestibule entrance, located on Farrer Place, and continuing along the original entrance staircase, flanked by marble walls decorated with displays and restored original brass frames. The pathway continues to the inner courtyard, conceived as a public space accessible not just to hotel guests but also to external visitors. 

The central courtyard, lit up by a triple-height glass ceiling, stands out for its bespoke kinetic sculpture, which features flower-like suspended lamps designed by Studio Drift that open and close through a mechanical system. Flowerbeds and green walls, designed as cascades of vegetation contribute to an evocative and welcoming atmosphere. 

Capella Sydney Hotel | © Timothy Kaye, courtesy Make Architects e Bar Studio Il McRae Bar, che prende il nome da George McRae, l’architetto che progettò l’edificio originario, trasforma uno spazio tradizionale come la lounge dell’hotel in un’esperienza che avvolge gli ospiti  nel fascino del passato.

The ground floor also hosts some event spaces, a bar, and two restaurants, named Aperture and Brasserie 1930. The first is in the courtyard, while the second extends across various rooms marked by large, illuminated arches that distinguish the spaces, characterized by a marble checkerboard floor and furnishings that juxtapose subtle colors and fine materials, including petrol blue leather and dark wood. 

The 192 guest rooms and suites – essential, with light and neutral colors – are distributed on the upper floors. The walls are adorned with dark frames, in wood or metal, that delimit the white surfaces, highlighting the geometry of the individual rooms. The original windows were maintained in the rooms belonging to the existing building, while the extension, reserved for the most exclusive suites, is completely surrounded by full-height windows.

Capella Sydney Hotel | © Timothy Kaye, courtesy Make Architects e Bar Studio La spa, completa di palestra e piscina, si trova al sesto piano ed è stata integrata nella struttura preesistente. La piscina è sormontata da un soffitto a cassettoni e da un grande lucernario storico che diffonde luce soffusa nell’ambiente.

All of the ground floor common areas and rooms on the higher levels are enriched by the presence of works of art realized by Australian and First Nations artists. Another peculiarity of the project was the choice to place the spa, equipped with a gym and pool, in the former gallery space on the sixth floor, integrating it into the existing heritage structure. The pool, which measures
20 m in length, is topped by a coffered ceiling and a large historic roof lantern that diffuses soft light, giving guests a feeling of total relaxation. The smaller roof lanterns were maintained and restored to illuminate the spa treatment areas from above. 

Capella Sydney Hotel | © Timothy Kaye, courtesy Make Architects e Bar Studio L’edificio conserva la sua facciata storica in stile Barocco edoardiano, caratterizzata da tre diversi ordini architettonici che si susseguono. Al di sopra del volume esistente, è stato inserito un ampliamento che ospita le nuove suite.

After the addition of the new extension, the remaining portion of the roof of the original 20th century building was converted into a space that not only hides the technical facilities, but also offers a new green outlook for the surrounding skyscrapers, establishing a dialogue between historic and contemporary at the urban level.

Location: Sydney, Australia
Client and Owner: Pontiac Land Group
Completion: 2023
Gross Floor Area: 20,700 m2
Architect: Make Architects
Interior and Lighting Designer: Bar Studio
Executive Architect: Webber Architects
Main Contractor: Built

Consultants
Project Manager:
Essence Project Management
Art: The Artling

Photography: Timothy Kaye, courtesy of Make Architects and Bar Studio

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