Architecture: temples of commerce | State Library of New South Wales

Temples of Commerce

The energy and vitality that surrounds commercial life in Sydney inspired early architects and continues to inspire those of today. The Library's architectural collections document two centuries of commercial architecture and development within New South Wales, from the nineteenth century to the contemporary offices of today.

Early colonists always pointed to commercial activity as a marker of Sydney's growth and development. Joseph Fowles, in his Sydney in 1848, commented that visitors to Sydney would be suprised by the development they found:

In place of a paltry town ... they find shops and warehouses which would do credit to a European capital, offering for their convenience every article of comfort and luxury. 

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Explore plans and photographs of some of the most prestigious buildings of Sydney: the elegant Royal Arcade designed by Thomas Rowe in 1881; the tallest building of its time Culwulla Chambers; and Art Deco style such as the Grace Building and the AWA Tower by architects Morrow & Gordon, and the Orient Line building.

See examples of emerging modernism in commercial and industrial buildings during the late 1930s, such as the Hastings Deering building and the Hoffnung & Co. building, designed by Samuel Lipson & Peter Kaad. Discover more on contemporary interior designers Burley, Katon & Halliday.


Temples of Commerce is made possible through a partnership with Woodhead.

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Temples of commerce
Made possible through a partnership with Woodhead