Hector Abrahams Architects became involved at St John’s College at The University of Sydney when they needed a new master plan. Working in collaboration with Cox Architecture, HAA was able to use our understanding of old buildings and our college experience to achieve the desired outcomes for better facilities for their students.

The college identified that a study centre was one of the key requirements to meet the needs of students in the 21st century. Hector Abrahams Architects were tasked with the job of creating such a space located within the original library in the building designed by William Wardell. The newly completed centre offers students individual and group study areas over two levels, internet access and a collection of hardcover books. The study centre is accessed from the grand central stair through the Philosophical Room a place set aside for quiet study and where the original bookshelves have been retained. In contrast to the sympathetic but contemporary feel of the study centre, the Philosophical Room harks back to the ecclesiastical origins of the architecture. It has been given a spectacular ceiling, gilded with small stars of 23 karat gold. Around three walls is a frieze with biblical texts in Latin, Ancient Greek and English and an acknowledgement of the architects who designed the first building of the college and of the benefactor for the new study centre is on the fourth.

The new interior plan was designed by Hector Abrahams Architects, as were the decorative schemes for both spaces. The integrated shelving and desk units, made from Tasmanian Blackwood and Hoop Pine were also designed by HAA . The work was overseen by building firm, Gartner Rose. The beautiful joinery was made by Classic Woodwork, and the stunning gilding is the work of Art Gilding.