Nickson 61 Commercial Building / Smart Design Studio
Photographs: Romello Pereira
Manufacturers: Autodesk, Austral Bricks, Bentley, Boral, Lysaght, skheme, viridian, Airlite, blue stone, Cityscape Steel, Outfield players, To do
Text description provided by the architects. Situated at the meeting point of commercial and residential areas in the bustling and dynamic Surry Hills, Nickson 61 presented an ideal opportunity for the adaptive reuse of the existing building stock to make a significant architectural contribution to the area. The site is located on a corner at the end of a row of terraces towards the south end of Nickson St. It is visible from busy Cleveland St and is adjacent to commercial and residential properties. The site contained a late 19th century terrace and a three meter wide vacant lot. This land was originally occupied by a free-standing dwelling which had been demolished to make way for an access road.
The traditional typology of a corner site in this conservation area is the corner store – a modest-scale building that reinforces the corner and provides public amenities and personality to the urban precinct. The design establishes a contemporary take on this typology, addressing the traditional form of corner-to-corner boundaries and responding to the brick construction typical of the corner building. The bold new peel form complements the row of terraces and contrasts with the existing built form which has been restored to its original Victorian detailing. The sculptural form is carefully considered to retain the expression of the adjoining terrace envelope, while strategic slits in the facade curve to open up to the street corner and the sky.
At the urban scale, the main objective was to revitalize residential housing in response to the increasing density of the area and the demand for adaptive reuse of the existing housing stock. Two new high quality residential units are planned on the upper two floors. The residential entrance to the building is through the existing terrace entrance door, providing privacy and separation from the corner commercial entrance while maintaining an active residential street frontage. The first floor balcony overlooking Nickson Street retains the existing terrace balcony. The upper floor level is constructed within the shape of the existing roof to retain the scale of the existing street frontage and established building pattern.
The unique small-scale commercial space on the ground floor and basement, compatible with the mixed use of the surrounding area, provides engagement and activation to the street. The commercial entrance is located at the corner of the site, highly visible and separated from the residential entrance. Along with the bold shape of the new infill, this establishes a dialogue between the commercial buildings of Cleveland St. Although this area prohibits commercial development, we were able to secure planning approval through a strong case for the commitment of the street and sophisticated transitions between residential and commercial.
Nickson 61 is a contemporary, bespoke contribution to Surry Hills. It offers intelligent reuse of existing building stock to provide characterful commercial and residential space that characterizes the vibrant mixed-use character of the suburb and provides a bold formal addition to the architecture of the area.