When pre-eminent Australian chef Neil Perry decided to open another new restaurant in Sydney he chose to locate The Rockpool Bar & Grill within the historic, heritage-listed 1936 City Mutual Life Assurance Building designed by Emil Sodersten.
Th NSW Government Statement of Significance states:
‘The City Mutual Building is one of the most impressive and innovative of Australia’s Interwar Art Deco commercial office buildings and a notable exemplar of its style and period. The building is recognized as the finest achievement in this style of its notable architect, Emil Sodersten, and the high quality of its design is matched by its fabric and fine detailing, both internally and externally. Features of particular note and rarity include the elaborate scagliola work in the Assurance Chamber and the bronze relief sculptures over the entry. The sculpture’s central figures are a reinterpretation of Benzoni’s “Flight from Pompei”, with flanking bas relief panels of indigenous flora, including banksias and flannel flowers, by reknowned sculptor Rayner Hoff over the main entry. The relatively high degree of intactness of the building’s important facades and interior spaces, particularly the entry hall and former Assurance Chamber, are also notable and enhance the site’s overall significance.’
It is within the main Assurance Chamber and associated spaces that Bates Smart inserted their clever and sensitive new design. Peeling back layers of additions, cleaning up the spaces and adding appropriate new elements, they have succeeded in creating one of the best restaurant and bar experiences in Sydney.
Place: Rockpool Bar & Grill Website
Designer: Bates Smart Architects
Photographer: Earl Carter
Review: Gourmet Traveller
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