2019 Sydney Design Awards

spaces, objects, visual, graphic, digital & experience design, design champion, best studio & best start-up, plus over 40 specialist categories

accelerate transformation, celebrate courage, growing demand for design

Image Credit : Tyrone Branigan Photography



Project Overview

Historical, social, ceremonial; Martin Place is the civic heart of Sydney, yet ironically, not at the social heart – until now. Adriano Pupilli Architects and Siren Design Group have transformed No.1 Martin Place into a central community piece, with focus and engagement on every level. Siren and APA have allowed the qualities, and users of the existing space, to guide their approach to the planning, celebrating the interrelationship of people and place. Ultimately the user is the chooser. It is a reflection of collaboration in all its forms; seen physically in the multi-use spaces and portico, experienced emotionally by the users daily; hard-wired technically with an array of social media platforms of the future.

The two-year process from initial concept through to completion commenced with extensive research, workshopping and stakeholder engagement to uncover tenant requirements, public perceptions and user sentiments. The design brief that emerged from this process outlined the need for a flexible town hall space with links to community and ceremonial activities; food and beverage offerings to entice interaction; a working lounge that transitioned between connection/relaxation; and a distinct need for a ‘third space’ which tenants felt connected to. The progressive and innovative design of No.1 Martin Place has placed it firmly back on the map.

Project Commissioner

Charter Hall

Project Creator

Adriano Pupilli Architects & Siren Design Group


Adriano Pupilli - Director of Adriano Pupilli Architects
Matt Ryall - Architect of Adriano Pupilli Architects
Mia Feasey - CEO of Siren Design Group
Venesa Buljubasic - Creative Director of Siren Design Group

Project Brief

The Portico is an unforgettable front of house; not only in its superb construction and undulating movement but also in its engagement of the entire space - drawing people to the heart, the hub and the social buzz - bringing it together and allowing it all to settle under one, big, timber blanket. No. 1 Martin Place, collaborative to the core, will continue to invite people in, nurturing not just how people feel in a space, but how they think and act-now and in the future. They will inspire, evolve-constantly reinvigorating those fortunate enough to permeate them. The success of No. 1 Martin Place was due to the community focus, fusion of ideas from Siren & APA, supported by visionary client Charter Hall and a talented team of consultants, industry experts and suppliers, which brought a simple ethos to life. Progression lies within understanding what will make people thrive in an environment. It's about the whole picture, what people will be doing in a space, what conversations are happening in the chairs, rather than just thinking about the finish. A highly successful blueprint has been created; a flexible and modular fit-out which has transformed a dead, in-between 'nothingness' into an inspiring, vibrant and truly adaptable space - one that constantly changes in response to people’s needs, time of day and the seasons.

Project Innovation/Need

Set in a prime location, No.1 Martin Place Sydney, comprises prime commercial and hotel towers, anchored by one of Australia’s most significant heritage buildings, the GPO. The commercial workspaces above attract a diverse range of occupants such as LinkedIn, Microsoft and Expedia. The great opportunity, but also the pivotal challenge, was the consideration of combining old, with integration of the new, to provide meeting, co working, eating, drinking and social spaces, centered around existing relationships within the precinct. The concept of a Portico was developed by APA & Siren to create a memorable front of house; a place to linger, be inspired, meet the neighbours, all complimented by dynamic public/private zones; a marketplace and articulation of the lively energy permeating from the streets below. Dead spaces became nooks for larger gatherings, thoroughfares became spaces for people to order coffee, have a quick bite or tap out an email, whilst overlooking and linking back to life on the street.The philosophy was to bring the outside in by incorporating biophilia, park benches and street lights, playing with scale/proportion to maximize the double height space. Elements are well crafted, innovative, customizable.All providing multifunctional and flexible facilities, catering for the diverse community, supported by seamless technology integration. A new staircase was installed from the foyer to scoop people up from street level delivering them into the welcoming space.To slow people’s movement, creating intimacy and calm, a vaulted ceiling of dowels creates a rhythm of undulating forms, referencing the classical elegance of the GPO.

Design Challenge

Heritage constraints of the building were a challenge, but as a team, APA & Siren along with Graphite (the builder) all overcame significant difficulties; being sympathetic to the beauty of the existing building whilst successfully interpreting the wants, needs and wishes of all key stakeholders involved, delivering with passion and integrity, on budget (and on time) despite the numerous constraints. The digital wall, which has been cleverly curated, creates a backdrop of art and ever-changing digital media, constantly inviting thought and engagement, just like the furnishings and fittings that surround it. The central food and beverage offering supports the many uses of the modular meet, work, play, chat, display, present space. The flexible event space with suspended mesh panels, allows for a multitude of pop-up display events, including not limited to art gallery, retail display, social events, all on show and accessible by not only the building occupants but the wider public at heart. The innovative floor layout and flexible design allows for current and future user experience and engagement, both tactile and technological, in a space that has been designed for the future as an iconic landmark of 1 Martin place – solid and long lasting, with only the best, most durable, progressive and sustainable materials and products used on the market.


No. 1 Martin Place is not only beautiful in appearance, but with sustainability at the forefront of all design decisions made.The most obvious being the timber ceiling canopy which is made from 8,000LM of FSC rated timber dowel.A narrow diameter of dowel was used to maximize the yield of raw timber, while no finish was applied limiting any potential VOCs.The design intent was to introduce timber throughout combined with biophilic design to create the idea of being immersed in a forest under a canopy of natural made materials, sequestering carbon from the atmosphere through the growth of plantation pine trees and locking it into the dowels and diagrid supporting panels.We have used a selection of environmentally sound natural materials favouring reductionist/reuse/recycle principles, and construction detailing which allows for disassembly and future reuse where possible.Low VOC paints and finishes were used throughout, water energy efficient fittings and inclusion of indoor plants/ biophilia within integrated joinery successfully targeted our ‘health and wellbeing’ approach to the design encouraging user movement according to task. The integrated pond below the new staircase assists with temperature cooling. Re-use of existing was another strong driver, with the majority of sandstone walls and tile flooring retained. All furniture items were locally sourced and selected with a strong emphasis on life cycle thinking. Smart planning and design principles that will make it easier for users of the space to act in ‘green ways’ or emit green behaviour were implemented throughout detail design of joinery and specifications.

This award celebrates innovative and creative building interiors with consideration given to space creation and planning, furnishings, finishes and aesthetic presentation. Consideration also given to space allocation, traffic flow, building services, lighting, fixtures, flooring, colours, furnishings and surface finishes.
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