While preserving two of the city’s most prominent buildings, the new QT Sydney hotel designed by australian studio Woodhead architects is destined to become a new landmark by reviving a rich and colorful past of theatre and retail. Set within the historic Gowings department store and heritage-listed State Theatre in the heart of Sydney’s central business district, the surrounding area is brimming with culture, art, fashion, cuisine and design, while still being within easy reach of sandy beaches.
Inside, the lower levels of both buildings are where the action is with the bar, street-side cafe and lounge spaces on the ground floor of Gowings department store. This connects to the first floor lobby in the adjacent State Theatre building.
These public spaces, envisioned as the main stage for locals and visitors to interact and mingle with the buildings’ rich heritage, plays with elements of the past along with an edgy contemporary design style. It does so by juxtaposing original facade features with graphic contemporary art, drops of drama and whimsicality through quirky pieces of furniture and pops of colour. The restaurant, bar and late night lounge are expected to attract Sydney’s hot and happening crowd, particularly those in the fashion and entertainment industries.
Although the two buildings were both completed in the late 1920s, stylistically they are very different. The State Theatre is one of only two surviving theatres in Sydney that are designed by Henry E. White and John Eberson, and mixes eclecticn elements of Gothic, Italian and art deco design. The Gowings department store, designed by Robertson & Marks in 1912, has a vast and open layout – big windows, high ceilings, wide corridors and sandstone cladding. The conversion of the upper floors into a bright and chic boutique hotel experience did not affect the State Theatre, or the lower retail levels of the Gowings building, which have remained unchanged.
Details such as the original gothic features of the department store and, original artworks and fixtures in the State Theatre by William Dobell and Charles Wheeler, two of Australia’s most significant artists from the ’20s, are being thoughtfully restored to their former glory. With the façades of the buildings returned to their former glory, the inside has fought to retain its old world appeal, while celebrating new technology, distinctive art mediums and cutting edge emerging artists.
To ensure impact on arrival, QT Sydney’s team of art consultants, designers and architects worked to bring the history and rich fabric of both buildings together through an energetic collection of original artwork and cutting edge graphics. Guests enter via the lobby of the State Theatre on the first floor, where the building’s theatrical past can be felt, with stage lights casting a glow over the reception and draping, heavy stage curtains leading them into the building.
The bold design of the hotel is set off by the historical features forming a space that serves not just as a lobby, but as a playground after dark. An imposing LED wall of digital art is a feature of the public areas within the hotel, adding a dramatic and intriguing display to these already enticing surroundings. Eclectic and quirky artefacts have been brought together from all around the world adding an unusual mix of interesting elements to the QT experience. Custom furniture, geometric patterns on the ceilings and floors and a splash of colors are some of the highlights of the QT design, with a bold use of black and white, Yves Klein blue, magenta and citron throughout.
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images courtesy of QT Sydeny