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DESIGN & STYLE

The Best New Sydney Spaces of 2021

These are the most stunning buildings and venues to join Sydney's streets this year.
By Ben Hansen
December 15, 2021
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By Ben Hansen
December 15, 2021
  shares

THE BEST NEW SYDNEY SPACES OF 2021

These are the most stunning buildings and venues to join Sydney's streets this year.

Our city is constantly changing and evolving, with longstanding Sydney streets being treated to makeovers, new pavilions being built and multi-million dollar snow resorts coming to Penrith. Among all these big infrastructure changes, small and carefully designed spaces are always popping up as well.

2021 has seen an awe-inspiring concert venue open in Chippendale, a new food and drink precinct finally welcome in patrons in South Eveleigh and two new multi-storey venues add new bars and restaurants to historic buildings.

We've compiled a list of our six favourite spaces that have emerged in Sydney this year. These are the spaces that are pushing things forward with breathtaking visuals, sustainable community spaces or exciting new areas to explore.

  • 6

    The South Eveleigh precinct transforms a century-old locomotive workshop into a hub of vibrant new venues, green spaces and public art. Headlining the food and drink offerings is Matt Whiley (Scout) and Maurice Terzini’s (Icebergs Dining Room & BarCiccia Bella) groundbreaking new sustainability-focused bar Re, as well as Kylie Kwong’s Cantonese-Australian eatery Lucky Kwong — but you’ll find RaRa Chan, the latest from the RaRa crew, and the likes of Eat FuhFishbowl, Bekya, Romeo’s Food Hall IGA and Steve Costi’s Famous Fish as well.

    Explore the site and you’ll also stumble on a skate park and playground, ample community  space and an array of public art. There’s an immense pavilion made from discarded railway stairs, a hand-built tree house, an LED cloud with an infectious smile and occasional pop-up art from 107 Projects.

    Image: Kitti Gould.

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  • 5

    Hinchcliff House is a four-storey mega venue that’s overtaken the heritage Hinchcliff Wool Stores in the ever-evolving Quay Quarter. The huge standstone structure plays host to five new venues: two Italian eateries, an underground cocktail bar, a private hospitality space and an attached bakery.

    While each venue brings something interesting to the table, the real marvel of the venue is the huge wool store it sits within. At Grana, bare sandstone walls are accompanied by wooden beams, and large grain and wheat bundles are placed around the restaurant. The space links your dining experience to the history of the building, while the menu heroes pasta and bread made in the building’s mill. Or for something completely different, head downstairs to Apollonia. Here, the lights are dimmed and soft beige tones are traded for romantic hues, leather seats and an expansive cocktail menu.

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  • 4

    Phoenix Central Park is Sydney’s most stunning secret. Hidden in Chippendale, the arts and music listening space only opens to the public for select performances. Seats at these shows are almost always allocated via a ballot, so it takes a little luck to get inside.

    The intricate space is the vision of philanthropist Judith Neilson AM, founder of the White Rabbit Gallery. Its curved beige walls are reminiscent of New York’s Guggenheim, while the central music space is an impressive multi-level amphitheatre. When artists hit the stage, the muted beige walls are often illuminated by colourful lighting displays, transforming the venue. If you haven’t been lucky enough to find a way in, you can watch Phoenix’s series of online performances, Halo. Featuring local favourites like A.Girl, Shady Nasty and Annie Hamilton, these stripped-back live shows illustrate the beauty of the space as well as the musicianship on offer. But, there’s an upcoming chance to sneak your way in IRL, with the venue set to host three upcoming performances as part of Sydney Festival — all of which are open to the public via a ticket ballot.

    Image: Jordan Munns.

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  • 3

    This coastal mainstay reopened its doors just weeks after the northern beaches went through its five-week lockdown over Christmas last year. Still in the swing of summer, it offered an exciting new spot for a post-swim beverage and a home to the live music scene that’s done it so tough over the last two years.

    Under the guidance of Glenn Piper and Lachlan Cottee, the pub boasts sunny outdoor seating with bright yellow and white umbrellas, a classy cocktail lounge and a seafood restaurant. And, the venue plays into its suburb’s claim as the official birthplace of surfing in Australia (the sport was popularised in Freshwater back in 1915 by Duke Kahanamoku, a native Hawaiian who famously carved a surfboard from Aussie timber). Designed by architects Alexander & Co, the fit-out include’s a mural by Sydney artist Ash Holmes and a new “sun-bleached” exterior. The refurb has also unveiled sections of the pub that have been covered for decades, including a heritage staircase and arches. Plus, patrons are encouraged to rock up straight from the ocean, with spots to leave surfboards while you wine and dine.

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  • 2

    After closing its doors in 2016, Sydney’s Theatre Royal has finally reopened. The 1200-seat Theatre Royal is one of Australia’s oldest theatres, dating back to the 1870s. But most Sydneysiders will know it in its current form, which reopened in the 1970s and was designed by famed Australian architect Harry Seidler.

    As part of the venue’s new multimillion-dollar refurbishment, leaseholder Trafalgar Entertainment has kept true to Seidler’s original designs, while also increasing capacity from 1100 to 1200 via a redesign that’s added an extra row of seats. The venue now sports a two-tiered setup, with no seat within the auditorium any more than 23 metres from the stage. Red and gold still feature heavily, colour-wise. There’s also a new circular glass entrance space decked out with floor-to-ceiling windows, for views of King Street from the internal theatre foyer — and vice versa, including being able to see Theatre Royal’s ribbed ceiling and geometrically precise hanging Mercator sculpture, as designed by Italian structural engineer Pier Luigi Nervi and American sculptor Charles O Perry respectively.

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  • 1

    Shell House is the latest venue from The Point Group, the hospitality collective behind the likes of The DolphinBondi Beach Public Bar and Harry’s, as well as the upcoming restaurant, bar and wine room on former defence facility Fort Denison. The much-hyped multi-level venue plays home to four different bars and restaurants: Menzies Bar, Sky Bar, Dining Room and Terrace, and Clocktower.

    Each venue inside Shell Bar comes equipped with a luxurious interior design and its own unique energy. Step into Menzies and you’ll find warm lighting, thick leather seats and a lavish bistro menu. The gold-heavy Sky Bar offers up a fun mix of cocktails with panoramic city views. Dining Room and Terrace is filled with rich brown and beige tones as well as a seafood heavy dinner menu. And Clocktower is fittingly situated inside Shell House’s historic 400-tonne clocktower. Each space is classy and refined, matching their respective menus. Whether you’re looking for a quiet drink, a heart meal or a night out with unbeatable city views, Shell House has a spot for you.

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Top image: Jordan Munns.

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