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Customs House – City of Sydney Library

The Customs House refurbishment brought new vibrancy to this important part of Sydney’s heritage. The building caters for a wide variety of uses including the Sydney City Library across the first three levels.

At ground floor level, an inviting series of public spaces included a colonnade and podium which opened onto the forecourt area. The insertion of French doors and improved access to the eastern café and western bar emphasised the new sense of engagement with the outdoor space.

These changes required negotiations with both the NSW Heritage Council and the Australian Heritage Council and were carried out in a ‘reversible’ manner.

Internally, the ground floor was an open meeting place and lobby, a ‘city lounge’ with a media salon as well as food and wine venues. The giant city model of the Sydney CBD was displayed at the base of the atrium beneath a glass floor.

The upper floors featured the library which incorporated exhibition areas, restaurant and private function spaces.

Eastern wing of Level 1 Children's Library
Ground Floor Public Lounge
Ground Floor Newspaper and Magazine Library
Ground Floor Public Lounge


Gadigal Country, Circular Quay, Sydney, Australia


PTW Architects in association with Tanner Architects & Lacoste + Stevenson


City of Sydney


2006 National Trust Heritage Awards for Adaptive Re-use, Corporate/Government Highly Commended (in assoc. with Lacoste Stevenson, Tanner Architects)