Smart Design Studio - Sydney Architects

Sydney Saesoon Church

Smart Design Studio converted a former industrial building and its site in North Rocks into an inspiring, functional and welcoming place of worship for the Sydney Saesoon Presbyterian Church. Whilst reinforcing the rigorous modernist aesthetic of the existing building, new openings break down the large scale to provide connections to the outdoors and make apparent the new use of the building.

The challenge of transforming a factory building into a church largely involved mediating between the human scale and the vastness of a building over 90m wide and long whilst at the same time creating spaces imbued with light, air and a sense of delight. The new architecture is sympathetic to the existing building and provides a solution which is robust and modest, creating a safe and quality home for the Church. Native landscaping to the grounds softens the building and provides intimate and usable outdoor spaces.

On arrival, the congregation comes together in a central ‘gallery’ 19m wide and running the entire length of the building. This central gallery is designed to contain activity, quickly drawing the congregation into this large space in the centre of the building, which is naturally lit via overhead clerestory windows.

The gallery also divides the building into two sides; one side housing the larger halls and dining area with the 1300 seat main hall at its centre, with the other side containing the smaller rooms for the Sunday school, grouped around a central atrium. Clear planning throughout the design uses the resource of the existing building to best effect, maximising efficiency and providing coherent circulation and spatial organisation.



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