Foveaux commercial suites

The 44A Foveaux Street commercial suites are located on a prominent street corner in the busy heart of Surry Hills.

The pre-existing building was undistinguished 3 storey brick and concrete structure, constructed in the 1970’s, incorporating parts of an earlier brick c1920 garage structure. The building had no activation to the street, presenting as a mute, brown-painted block with narrow arched openings. The new work adapts and remodels the existing 3 storey structure and adds two additional floors directly above the existing volume.

New retail frontages at street level animate the previously closed length of the Foveaux and Belmore Street facades, with large scale windows and serveries accommodated below a new cantilevered steel awning. The corners are opened as generous inset porches.

The two existing office floors have also been opened sympathetically within the tectonic logic of the original structure, with new corner balconies added, and a lightwell cut into the rear of the building. External louvre blinds environmentally screen the western façade, and old paint has been removed to expose the patina of the original light-coloured brickwork.

The two additional levels contrast with the lower floors, having large scale openings that articulate the change in structural condition, and include generous stepped terraces to transition to smaller scale buildings at the rear of the site. These upper floors are clad in vertical bronze-coloured metallic panels, while glazed openings are protected by operable external vertical louvres. All floor plates now benefit from available light and air from all frontages, with intimate views into the street trees’ canopies and beyond to the Surry Hills and city skylines. Additionally the top floor space benefits from an inset screened roof terrace that embraces this mix of urban experiences.

The new central core repositions the stair and adds a lift, readily allowing for a range of tenancies to be accommodated; multiple floor leases, whole floor tenancies, or subdivision of floors into smaller leases. The address is now via an accessible double height foyer to Belmore Street.

Structure and services are exposed on all floors, resulting in more generous ceiling heights and a raw architectural character. Large scale concrete elements, such as the lift shaft, structure, and exposed slab soffits, give the interiors a robust materiality. The design established a strong framework that readily accommodates varied layouts and fit-outs by individual tenants.

The alterations and additions give the building a strong and cohesive architectural order, with the projecting horizontals of the awning, cornices and roof line contrasting with the vertical panels and louvre blades. The insetting of the corner balconies and the projecting cornices creates a double height scale, uniting the existing and new work into an integrated composition.

The building’s street presence, architectural character and environmental performance are all substantially improved. The introverted ‘ugly duckling’ has been transformed into a far more open and engaging work of urban architecture.

The interior fit-out of the photographed suite was undertaken by Valdis Macens Architects.