The Portico No.1 Martin Place

Mezzanine tenant hub and foyer refurbishment, Martin Place, Sydney.

For Adriano Pupilli Architects. Sydney. 2018.

Designer and project coordinator.

Stroll along the prestigious pedestrian spine of Martin Place in the  heart of Sydney’s CBD, in the shadows of the classical arches of the grand GPO, and you’ll discover a new treasure – The Portico.

This under-utilised mezzanine level has been transformed into a tenant’s hub, cafe, gallery event and co-working space, and it’s now open for business…and play.

In our initial design pitch to client Charter Hall we envisaged the mezzanine as a portico, a semi-public front of house, and a place to get to know your neighbours – all under an undulating canopy of dowel. We imagined a welcoming place to linger and slow down, a refreshing retreat from bustling Pitt Street while visually connecting and extending a sense of public life inwards into the mezzanine and foyer.

We let the qualities of the existing space guide our approach to architectural planning. Meeting, co-working, eating, drinking and social spaces activate the glazing perimeter and link to life on the street. Dead spaces become nooks for larger gatherings and events, while thoroughfares become spaces for people to order coffee, perch for a quick bite, tap out an email and watch the flow of people coming and going.

A staircase from foyer level was proposed to scoop people up from street level and deliver them into a warm and welcoming place for people to meet. To slow people’s movement through the space and create intimacy and calm, a vaulted ceiling made up of dowels creates a rhythm of undulating forms that reference the classical elegance of the GPO. A flexible gallery space with sliding screens displays artworks from local collectives, the screens can be re-arranged to enclose workshop space.