Queen Victoria's Makeover

QVB makeover

QVB Unveils $48 million restoration and refurbishment.

The Queen Victoria Building (QVB) has been restored to her former glory, with a refurbishment that has seen six years of careful planning and implementation. The $48 million project cultivates an upgrade that reflects the building's original design, whilst maintaining commercial and shopper realities of the 21st century.


Coupled with higher quality shopping, upgraded elements such as improved lighting features have contributed to a refreshed ambience for this much-loved Sydney jewel. The project has been overseen by Project Managers; Coffey Projects, with Built responsible for the renovation works which have included substantial internal refurbishment of the existing shopping centre including vertical transportation and finishes. The centre remained fully operational throughout the upgrade which involved new signage, shop fronts, escalators and landings, elevators, carpets and painting throughout.


Award winning architects, Sydney based Anchor, Mortlock and Woolley were responsible for resurrecting the QVB's heritage values and architectural design, which included highlighting the QVB's magnificent columns by installing frameless glass shop fronts. Existing framed and glazed shopfronts within the centre are being converted, transforming each into a modern frameless alternative whilst maintaining the integrity of the building.


Heritage consultant Graham Brooks worked closely with the team which included the highly respected Ken Woolley, in order to revive historical elements of the building that had been lost over the years. This included devising a Victorian inspired colour palette to complement the unique cultural elements of the building. The use of red, turquoise and eggshell blue is a more vibrant and honest interpretation of how the Victorian sensibility embraced vibrant colours in courageous combinations. Furthermore the approach of the colour consultant George Freedman (of Freedman Rembel), was to use clear positive colours, which adhere to the Arts and Crafts ideal of integrity, suitability of form to function, and exuberance, with clear white archways separating and defining the palette. Such aesthetics symbolise the heart of the building and hark back to the Victorian colour ways, contemporary with the construction of the Queen Victoria markets building in the late 1800s.


Another of the key elements of the work has been the new escalators, to replace those which were installed during the last major refurbishment of the building in 1984. Over time, the dislocated escalators have caused an indirect, inefficient and circuitous travel route to the upper levels of the building. IPOH considered it essential that an efficient escalator system be installed adjacent to the ends of the Ground Floor Market and Druitt Street entrances, to improve access for shoppers to the upper levels.


The escalator scheme was developed with significant input from the City of Sydney and NSW Heritage Councils after the careful consideration and investigation of many alternative schemes with the design consultants. The new escalators have been designed to be seen as a new sculptural element expressed in their own right and to follow the Burra Charter heritage concept that new insertions should be clearly expressed in a contemporary way so that they will be recognised as a later addition. The design is minimalist, modern, and reversible, using an engineered structure that does not overpower the ornate building elements.


The building work has also embraced a strong focus on water conservation and energy reduction and is expected to achieve a reduction of approximately 13.7% per cent in the overall QVB power consumption. A reduction in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of such mechanical services systems results in the QVB reinventing itself as a 'greener building'. There will also be conversion from electricity based cooling to gas absorption chillers. The use of 100% environmentally friendly refrigerants means zero global warming potential and zero ozone depletion.


Not only does the QVB transcend beauty and grace, it has set a standard for world class shopping destinations. Working together the City of Sydney, Heritage Council and Ipoh have achieved a delicate balance between historical preservation and commercial necessity.  Furthermore, this shared vision has given new life to the next chapter of this monumental CBD treasure.