Smart Design Studio - Sydney Architects


Winner Think Brick Horbury Hunt Award Commercial

Commendation AIA NSW Architecture Award Commercial

Smart Design Studio was selected as the successful architect in a competitive process to design the new Rail Operations Centre for Sydney Trains. The design was developed in association with Jacobs. The brief required a very secure building with almost no windows on the upper half of the building. In addition to this, we wanted to create a building with a great connection to the new city centre of Green Sqaure.


Our concept sought to distinguish itself from the neighbouring apartment and commercial buildings by expressing its function as a piece of railway infrastructure. This led to the two principal facades with long brick arches, spanning forty and forty five metres. These work as substantial beams to support the heavy brick walls above and allow openings at the base.

The commonplace nature of brickwork and its familiar texture have been used as a counterpoint to the extraordinary scale of the architectural gestures that define the building’s identity. Red brick is locally made and matches the dominant colour of the local warehouse, Sydney’s historical buildings and Australia’s red earth. During construction the project was nicknamed RED-ROC, implying a connection to Australia’s inland landscapes.

At one end of the generous foyer is a glazed fire stair that rises through the building, while at the other is a cafe. The stair was designed with low and wide treads and over sized landings, slowing down the passage and thereby encouraging impromptu meetings and social interactions. The cafe offers another place where all building users can meet with access to a sunny external terrace.


The control room occupies an area that’s thirty metres wide and forty metres long, vast enough to bring all the critical operations teams together. The largest screen in the Southern Hemisphere has been incorporated, enabling the controllers to monitor the network and pull up CCTV and multi-channel live streamed images. The high ceiling is punctuated by integrated skylights that perform like a luminous canopy directing natural light over a flexible working environment. This crucial space has been placed at the top of the building with the associated plant and support spaces located on the floors immediately below, creating an inverted pyramid shape.

The glass curtain walls are recessed, offering shade from direct sun. The fully glazed arched openings maximise the amount of natural light entering the lower floors. The curtain walls describe the edge of a colonnade along the eastern facade and a raised terrace at first floor level on the northern side. The eastern colonnade shelters pedestrians while the raised north facing terrace acts as a sunny communal space for the building’s users to congregate.




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