Text description provided by the architects. The Mint Project is the transformation of one of Sydney’s oldest and most precious historical sites on Macquarie Street into a new meaningful public place formed and characterised as much by the carefully inserted contemporary buildings as the conserved and adapted heritage structures. It is a project that seeks to set a new and important benchmark for:
• Contemporary architectural design
• Conservation and adaptive reuse of heritage buildings.
• The integration of authentic contemporary architecture within sensitive heritage sites.
• The creation of meaningful public open space and public places within heritage environments.
• The integration of sustainable environmental design into sensitive heritage sites.
• The integration and interpretation of archaeological remains
The vacant and almost ruinous Mint Coining Factory and associated buildings has been transformed into the campus-like headquarters of the Historic Houses Trust. Contemporary architectural forms have been carefully inserted to accommodate a major public auditorium, exhibition areas, foyer and bar, while existing buildings have been adaptively reused to create a significant new resource centre for the public and new work environments for the staff.
These clearly defined public rooms and facilities are gathered around a central courtyard that is given new life and form as a significant public space of the city.
While the contemporary architectural forms have been carefully designed to form direct and clear relations with the existing buildings in terms of scale and proportion, they are uncompromisingly new. They have sought to create a new architectural layer on the site designed in the innovative and ‘forward looking’ spirit that underpinned the original 1850’s constructions.
This ‘layered’ approach of placing new and old in a bold transforming relationship is apparent in the general organisation of the project and in design of the new courtyard. The strict symmetry of Trickett’s original plan with central pavilion and identical wings has been transformed into an asymmetrical axis about a pair of related, pavilions of ‘opposite/dialectical’ character, new and old, light and heavy, stone and glass. The outcome is a rich and complex assembly of form and spaces through which the layers and events of the site can be read and interpreted.