Sydney’s oldest continuous workspace in the heart of historic Dymocks Building revitalised by Gray Puksand

Housed within the heritage-listed Dymocks Building, the Dymocks national office has undergone a significant refurbishment by national architecture practice Gray Puksand, delivering a contemporary workspace in line with the changing needs of work.

Completed last month, the project marks the first major architectural refurbishment of the Dymocks office in decades. Occupying most of level six in the multi-storey arcade, the refreshed workspace has been designed by Gray Puksand to better facilitate flexible and collaborative working, while paying homage to the unique history of the site.

Located on one of Sydney’s most vibrant and prestigious streets, the Dymocks Building is regarded as Australia’s first shopping centre, with a unique design home to 120 boutiques and retail stores across its 11 storeys.

The building is significant not only for its architecture, but that the site at 428 George St has been occupied by Dymocks’ flagship store and head office for more than 130 years – marking one of the longest examples of continuous retail and office use in the state.

Leaders in designing for commercial adaptive reuse, Gray Puksand collaborated with consultants and local council to sensitively restore the existing workspace in accordance with the strict heritage requirements for the 90-year-old building.

Gray Puksand Partner Donna Wheatley said the project was a rare opportunity to tailor a site with national historic significance to the complex functional needs of modern workspaces.

“Our design strategy focussed on harnessing and celebrating the original fabric of the building, while adapting and future-proofing the existing office space as an exciting, customised place to work for Dymocks staff,” Wheatley said.

“While working with strict heritage guidelines can be challenging, our experience as architects designing for community needs allows us to have a more nuanced conversation about how to best represent both the heritage and adapt the existing spaces to ensure they meet the needs of future generations.”

A key architectural requirement was the retention of a heritage corridor in the centre of the floorplate, replicated on every floor and originally designed to accommodate a range of boutique stores. To connect the existing corridor with the workspaces, two shared collaboration areas have been added on opposing ends, encouraging coincidental social interactions between staff as they move throughout the floor.

“Our design strategy focused on harnessing and celebrating the original fabric of the building, while adapting and future-proofing the existing office space as an exciting, customised place to work for Dymocks staff,” Gray Puksand Partner Dr Donna Wheatley

Along the facade, the heritage-listed partitions for original retail tenancies have been retained up to a datum line, creating an open plan work environment and welcoming much-needed daylight while retaining visibility of the original intent of the floor plan.

Creating a separation between heritage and new, original details like tiling and stained-glass windows have been complemented by a fresh and simple palette of modern amenities, light colours and materials.

Dymocks Managing Director (Property) and Finance Director, Cathy Tiberio said it was important for the revitalised head office to reflect Dymocks’ 130 years plus history on George Street, while bringing the space forward in line with 21st-century work practices.

“Gray Puksand’s expertise in designing contemporary and tailored workspaces, coupled with their track record working within heritage requirements, ensured delivery of a beautiful head office that is truly authentic to the site,” Tiberio said.

“Their research-led approach ensured that our refreshed office space would cater to new ways of working, boost collaboration and above all provide a great place to work for our staff.”

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