Interview with Wade Little from Woods Bagot

Introducing the man responsible for bringing to life Primus Hotel Sydney’s stunning interior space, Wade Little from Woods Bagot.

By Benjamen Judd 

To tackle the complexity of a space such as Primus Hotel Sydney, it takes vision and an ability to see both how things will work in the present and in the future. But the Primus is unique – because it is also a heritage building, those designers and architects also had to be able to look at the past. 

This was the puzzle put to Wade Little of Woods Bagot when he was asked to come on board and create a hotel that captured the splendour of the past while still creating a place that would entice the travellers of the future. 

We chatted to Little to discuss his experience working on Primus Hotel Sydney and what he thought of the process and the final outcome.


What was the biggest challenged you faced when you began working on Primus Hotel Sydney? 

Upgrading the Sydney Water Board building to current standards of compliances presented the biggest challenge. Built nearly 80 years earlier, the standards of disabled accessibility, fire protection and noise separation needed to be resolved. 


Taking into account the strict requirements of a heritage listed building, how did you balance the need to meet these standards while creating a space that was still modern?

We worked closely with our heritage advisor, the council heritage officer and very talented craftsmen.  Research and a deep understanding of heritage elements help to provide the balance. 

It was very important to the design team to maintain the spirit of the original design.  All new elements sit in harmony with the remaining heritage finishes and space.


Going into the project, did you have a clear vision how you wanted it to work out?

Beginning the design process the team had a very clear picture of how the hotel should look and feel. 

The intention was to celebrate the volume of the heritage spaces and the combinations of materials and patterns found in the building.


Were there any parts that you had to compromise with? 

The building had many constraints that influenced the design. 

These included reuse of existing openings and structural limitations. Many of the issues we faced didn’t necessarily created compromises, rather took us in another direction. There were many great delights of working within the building. The day the covers over the central skylight came off was one of those – it revealed the abundance of light that would spill into the hotel lobby.


What was your favourite detail to work on? 

The rooftop terrace is the newest addition to the building. The new bar area and pool created an opportunity to provide a whole new type of amenity for the building. Our reference for this area comes directly from the building, the layering of brick to create the outdoor bar, the terrazzo floor pattern and the color of the tiles in the pool.


If you had to describe the Primus Hotel Sydney in three words, what would it be? 

Art Deco Paradise.






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