Heritage reimagined

South Eveleigh Locomotive Workshop Sydney, Australia

South Eveleigh Locomotive Workshop

Sydney, Australia


Compelling, clever and contemporary: Buchan powerfully preserves Sydney’s locomotive history

Sydney’s heritage-listed South Eveleigh Locomotive Workshop has been transformed from an Industrial-era building into a captivating multi-use commercial and community precinct that honours the site’s rich history. The revitalisation includes large public and exhibition spaces, a specialty grocer, eateries, gym and education facilities, and the original blacksmith forge, in full working order.

The inner-Sydney Workshop holds exceptional heritage significance for New South Wales. The Workshop opened in 1887 for the maintenance, and later manufacturing, of steam locomotives. As such, it required a highly sensitive approach to its adaptive re-use.

Buchan was engaged by Mirvac as the principal design consultant for the building’s interiors, wayfinding, signage and heritage interpretation. Buchan’s team closely liaised with architects Sissons and heritage specialists Curio Projects to ensure the integrity of the building’s heritage features.

Buchan’s design radically exposes and celebrates the Workshop’s original elements, in preference to hiding the building’s raw materials behind modern plasterboard walls or glass decals. Heavy timber beams are respectfully transformed into beautiful seating, display furniture and signage. Even the original dirt floors have been cleverly used in wall setbacks. The interior design is ‘brought to life’ by integrated 3D projections, graphics and displays to create a multi-sensory visitor experience.

Buchan’s interior and brand experience team has gone to extraordinary lengths to create a sense of immersion in the past. The inclusion of little moments of delight ⎯ projections of silhouette ghosts, curiosity cabinets containing original artefacts, replays of original sounds and voices — combine to make this a truly distinctive centre.

A new travelator has been deftly designed to take visitors on a storytelling journey. Moving through the travelator tunnel, visitors encounter ever-changing projections of the site’s vivid past, including First Nations’ stories of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation.

The design uses the building as a canvas to showcase the living history of the place. Even massive, intact machinery like the giant, in situ, Davy pressure pump (the largest in the Southern Hemisphere) has been employed to create the experience of working in the original building.

The Locomotive Workshop is nearing completion with a majority of the site operational and a full opening in 2022, set to provide an unparalleled experience for the local community and visitors alike.

Project: South Eveleigh Locomotive Workshop, Gadigal Land
Design and Delivery: Sissons Architects with Buchan and Mirvac Design
Project Heritage Specialist/ interpretation: Curio Projects

Photography by Simon Whitbread



  • Client /Mirvac
  • Discipline /AR. ID. BX
  • Sector /Mixed-Use
  • Region /Australia
  • Team / Anthony Palamara, Phil Schoutrop
  • Awards / AIA NSW Architecture Awards Commendation Commercial 2023, AIA NSW Architecture Awards Commendation Heritage - Creative Adaptation 2023