Inside the stunning redesign of Sydney’s Woolwich Pier Hotel
For any designer working with a heritage-listed property, there’s always a careful negotiation between old and new. But when you’re dealing with a place that belongs in people’s memories, it’s especially tricky to find that balance between past and present. For Sydney-based interior designers Rachel Wan and Larissa Orso, and architect Jeremy Bull, all from Alexander & Co., the Woolwich Pier Hotel represented a social epicentre for the Woolwich community, and as such, the interiors of this lower North Shore favourite needed to reflect its location and history.
The hotel is owned by the Laundy family, and it was important that the Alexander & Co. designers and architects worked to preserve the sense of community and heritage that the building represents. “Woolwich Pier is steeped in history which became obvious as we peeled back its layers,” says Justine Laundy from Laundy Hotels. “We revitalised the best aesthetic elements of this heritage and combined it with a fresh, eclectic mix of European and LA style. It’s not uncommon for four generations to meet in this hotel, so we needed a modern [finish] with a nod to nostalgia.”
For the Alexander & Co. team, opening up the previously closed-in space was one of the most important parts of the design brief, giving new life to the kitchen, bar, courtyard and first floor balcony areas. It was also important that the new design increase the venue’s capacity, while still retaining the beautiful overall structure of the building, which was established in 1885.
Hindered by low ceilings and a series of disjointed rooms, the design team relocated the staircase, allowing it to cut through the space and reveal the hidden layers of concrete, brick, steel and timber that had built up over the years. Ceilings were left exposed, the courtyard was restored and the first floor salon was transformed into an elegant dining space.
When planning the interiors, the team was led by a European mid-century style that’s both familiar and timeless. The pub is outfitted with reclaimed and restored furniture and lighting which serves to give the space a lived-in, vintage appeal that will welcome old and new customers. The exposed brick you see throughout the pub is juxtaposed with other tactile materials like velvet, linen, marble and brass to offer an intriguing mix of feminine and masculine accents.
It’s hard not to mention the Woolwich Pier Hotel without also highlighting its prime location overlooking Sydney Harbour – and this view has been sharpened by lowered balustrades on the upper level wrap-around balcony, which now seats 70 people.
Complemented by an improved menu from head chef Glenn Tabudlo, the pub’s kitchen is now serving up modern French brasserie-style favourites with Japanese-inspired side dishes perfect for sharing. And thanks to its tactile and warm interiors and updated facilities, it’s easy to see the Woolwich Pier Hotel staying relevant for many more generations to come.
Visit: woolwichpierhotel.com.au and alexanderand.co
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