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Ivy, Sydney, Australia

Tuesday 04 Jan 2011

A jungle in the concrete

Ivy by Woods Bagot in Sydney, Australia
Ivy by Woods Bagot in Sydney, Australia Ivy by Woods Bagot in Sydney, Australia Ivy by Woods Bagot in Sydney, Australia Ivy by Woods Bagot in Sydney, Australia
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A landscaped oasis for work, rest and play in the heart of Sydney 

The philosophy of Ivy was to create one of the most vibrant and youthful meeting places in the world. A world within a world, it is a 'house' in the big city where everyone is welcome and guests' needs are anticipated. With an intimacy typically encapsulated by a private residence, Ivy is a place for reprieve from the demanding city tempo, as well as a vibrant and stimulating work or meeting venue: a celebration of life.

"I think the Ivy is a reflection of my attitude towards life. We go to work and we sleep, and the rest of the time it's about us, about the individual and having a good time" says Justin Hemmes. "I wanted it to be my ideal house, in the heart of the city, with lots of outdoor spaces... [somewhere that is] comfortable and feels like you're at home".

A landscaped oasis containing over 20,000 sq m of hotel and hospitality venues, Ivy is a seamless ensemble of 18 bars, nine restaurants, one of Sydney's largest ballrooms, a sunken garden atrium, two penthouse suites and a rooftop pool - designed across two adjoining sites in mid-town Sydney.

The interior design principles stem from a careful understanding of the interrelationship between architecture, landscape and interiors. Despite residing within a commercial domain, the encapsulation of the client's love for 1950s modernist residencies is retained throughout the Ivy through its qualities of conventional domesticity and the reinterpretation of this style into a harmonious sequence of indoor/outdoor rooms. This holistic approach to design (to bring the outdoors in and the indoors out), has produced a hospitality offering layered with rich, unexpected touches.


Ivy contributes significantly to the public domain amenity by reclaiming Sydney’s neglected laneways – rebuilding the site’s historical pedestrian linkages and relocating the former laneways such as Palings Lane to the Northern end of Ash Street, Sydney. By injecting the lanes with entrances to both of the new buildings, select retail stores, bistro/bars, public seating, landscaping and lighting, Ivy invites the public to rediscover Sydney’s lost laneway network throughout the day and into the evening.


Ivy is the result of a strong collaboration between the client, architecture, interiors, landscape, graphic design and identity consultants, as well as project-associated engineering specialists. The typology of the Ivy was driven out of many investigations which considered the proximity of the hospitality offerings, fire egress requirements and maximising patron numbers. Accordingly, Ivy’s structure was designed around planning requirements that capitalise on the relationship and proximity between its various hospitality offerings. Technology enabled fire engineered solutions to effectively reduce stair width requirements by 40%, thereby maximising patron numbers.


Due to the critical mass created by the Ivy (the Ivy alone houses 1,300 staff and a building population of 3,500, with up to 10,000 patrons going through the venue in a day/evening cycle), many adjacent hospitality offerings in the city have benefited greatly from increased revenue as a direct result of the Ivy development. This is evident in all adjacent properties including the redeveloped lane network which formed part of the design strategy. The adjacent tenancies had been empty for many years, and are now fully leased and thriving.


The environmentally sustainable approach to Ivy identified the dependence on good and enduring passive design principles. Realised through the use of verandahs, canopies, oversized louvers, retractable shutters and raised floors that open out onto shady natural vegetation, its features work to cool the precinct core and allow for cross ventilation. A natural evaporative cooling effect is also achieved by the atrium’s water misting. Conversely, the courtyards contain gas heaters and greater thermal mass is attained via the expansive concrete components in the building’s overall construction. Additionally, on-site tanks are hand in hand with all landscaped elements, thus resulting in retaining considerable amounts of storm water for dedicated irrigation purposes. Furthermore, Ivy’s pool heating is supplemented with a condenser water system ‘waste heat’ from a dedicated heat exchanger which provides year round free heating.


“We pride ourselves on how we look after our staff. We put a lot of effort into creating a happy environment for them. We share all of our knowledge and performance with staff. We have an open book policy, so they feel a belonging to the business. If you engage your staff, and respect and look after them, they're obviously going to perform their best for you” Justin Hemmes. The design of the workplace is a business lever that is often not pulled. Creating places for users that enhance creativity and business value was our mission for the client. People are the key to any successful organisation, so a working environment must be conducive to attracting, supporting, encouraging and retaining the best people. We firstly achieved this by collocating all of the key management team currently distributed among a series of independent buildings into the centre of the Ivy development. This was a critical shift which enables strategic focus by the client into specific areas of the business. The collocation meant that a collaborative workplace culture was fostered through the new environment.

Key Facts

Status Completed
Value 0(m€)
Woods Bagot

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