Cleveland and Co – a 39-apartment multi-residential development in the Sydney suburb of Redfern – is a product of disjointed influences. The project by SJB saw the adaptive re-use of two adjacent heritage-listed industrial buildings, spanning two centuries and two distinct architectural styles.

The first building, the old New York and Brooklyn Tobacco Factory, was designed by Sydney architect R. Kunstman in 1889. A well-preserved example of Victorian architecture, the original warehouse space featured cast-iron columns, lofty ceilings and hefty timber beams.



The second building, the 1938 Demco Machinery Company by J. Aubrey Kerr, featured the massive steel-framed windows and open floorplans that were typical of Bauhaus architecture in the twentieth century.

Although Cleveland and Co was necessarily marketed as a “modern adornment” of the two heritage buildings, many of the existing features were retained (or what SJB refers to as an “assimilated” approach). For instance, original timber-panelled windows, exposed painted brickwork, sculptural cast-iron columns, and even the old tobacco kilns within the Kunstman factory were preserved as part of the redevelopment.

Rather than remove the historic elements of the building, SJB – working closely with an interior team at Burley Katon Halliday (BKH) – revived the original structures and emphasised the similarities between the two architectural styles.


The existing floorplans of both buildings were retained, alongside integral structural and fa├žade elements such as concrete columns, steel-framed windows and off-form concrete ceilings. The 39 residences were inserted around this configuration. Then, apartments were enhanced with modern embellishments such as engineered oak flooring, new glazing systems, Carrara marble features, and high-gloss enamels.


“The L-shaped building provided maximum street frontage, therefore original elements such as the timber-panelled windows were retained,” reads a statement from the project's builder, MADE Property Group. “The expansive cast-iron columns and exposed painted brick remained as [features], contributing to both the historical and modern character of the building.”


The ground floor level has been reincarnated as 1,100 square metres of retail space, with an activated and open street frontage. A large rooftop garden was created for the residents to further capitalise on connection to the street, but from a loftier and more private perspective. Up here, red brickwork and arched shapes – the work of landscape designers at Black Beetle – reference both the Victorian and Bauhaus styles of the original buildings.


The landscape elements of the building have secured Cleveland and Co a spot on the 2017 World Architecture Festival shortlist in the Landscape category.