Former "Asbestos House" Including Interiors | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Former "Asbestos House" Including Interiors

Item details

Name of item: Former "Asbestos House" Including Interiors
Other name/s: Asbestos House, James Hardie House
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Commercial Office/Building
Location: Lat: -33.8695412865115 Long: 151.20455777507
Primary address: 65-69 York Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
65-69 York StreetSydneySydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The former Asbestos House has particular associations with the well known Australian firm of James Hardie Pty. Ltd. This building served as the company headquarters. Generally it reflects an important period of city development during the 1920s-1930s and the selection of Sydney as a site for corporate offices. It contributes to the townscape character as a strong corner building modelled to emphasise its vertical lines. It is an individual and unusual interoperation of Inter-war Stripped Classicism style in the Palazzo form which anticipates the Art Deco style of the 1930s. It was designed by the prominent architectural firm of Robertson & Marks.
Date significance updated: 30 Jan 06
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: Robertson & Marks with John Reid & Sons (1929), Robertson & Marks (1935)
Builder/Maker: Hutcherson Bros
Construction years: 1929-1929
Physical description: The thirteen storey former Asbestos House was designed in two parts by Robertson & Marks in the Inter-war Stripped Classical style. Originally built in 1929 and extended in 1935, the building has a light grey granite facing on the lower two floors and rendered masonry above. The facade has strong vertical treatment which relieves the bulk of the building. The decorated granite facing and the cornice implies an Egyptian influence which may be a concession to the Art Deco style. Interiors have been substantially altered with modern fitouts comprising plasterboard stud walls with highlight glazing and wallpaper finish and suspended acoustic panel ceilings. James Hardie House forms part of an interesting and cohesive streetscape dominated by late nineteenth and early twentieth century commercial and warehouse buildings.
Category:Individual building. Style:Inter-War Stripped Classical with some Art Deco influences. Storeys:13. Facade:Rendered masonry, granite cladding, stainless steel awning. Side/Rear Walls:Rendered masonry. Internal Walls:Plasterbd. & stud, glass, timber panelling, vinyl wallpaper, marble facing. Roof Cladding:Waterproof membrane, smooth aggregate, ceramic tiles. Internal Structure:Reinf. conc. column & beam. Floor:Reinf. conc. slab, carpet, marble. Roof:Reinf. conc. slab. Ceilings:Susp. acoustic tiles, decorative plaster. Stairs:Reinf. conc. stairs, steel baluster and handrail; Reinf. conc. stair, granite finish. Fire Stairs:2. Sprinkler System:Yes. Lifts:3, stainless steel.AirConditioned:Yes
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
In general James Hardie House has been substantially altered with refurbishments to the exterior and interior, however the form and general appearance remain intact. Intrusive Elements:Awning.
Date condition updated:30 Jan 06
Modifications and dates: 1929, 1935
Further information: High Significance:External building form, scale and streetscape qualities.
Medium Significance:Relative intactness of external wall surfaces and window openings (new windows installed 1983), reinforced concrete frame and floors.
Low Significance:Interiors altered by plasterboard and glass partitions and suspended ceilings.

Heritage Inventory sheets are often not comprehensive, and should be regarded as a general guide only. Inventory sheets are based on information available, and often do not include the social history of sites and buildings. Inventory sheets are constantly updated by the City as further information becomes available. An inventory sheet with little information may simply indicate that there has been no building work done to the item recently: it does not mean that items are not significant. Further research is always recommended as part of preparation of development proposals for heritage items, and is necessary in preparation of Heritage Impact Assessments and Conservation Management Plans, so that the significance of heritage items can be fully assessed prior to submitting development applications.
Current use: Commercial offices
Former use: Commercial offices


Historical notes: The "Eora people" was the name given to the coastal Aborigines around Sydney. Central Sydney is therefore often referred to as "Eora Country". Within the City of Sydney local government area, the traditional owners are the Cadigal and Wangal bands of the Eora. There is no written record of the name of the language spoken and currently there are debates as whether the coastal peoples spoke a separate language "Eora" or whether this was actually a dialect of the Dharug language. Remnant bushland in places like Blackwattle Bay retain elements of traditional plant, bird and animal life, including fish and rock oysters.

With the invasion of the Sydney region, the Cadigal and Wangal people were decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today. All cities include many immigrants in their population. Aboriginal people from across the state have been attracted to suburbs such as Pyrmont, Balmain, Rozelle, Glebe and Redfern since the 1930s. Changes in government legislation in the 1960s provided freedom of movement enabling more Aboriginal people to choose to live in Sydney.

(Information sourced from Anita Heiss, "Aboriginal People and Place", Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City )

Asbestos House was designed by Robertson and Marks in association with John Reid and Sons in 1927. It was planned in two parts; the first was completed in 1928-29, and the second in 1934-35 to a design by the same architects. The building was praised for its delicate colouring (external terracotta) and its harmonious design. Few substantial changes were made to the building during the 1930s with the exception of the construction of a mezzanine in 1937. From the 1940s-70s the building was subject to various minor alterations including partitioning of several floors and alterations to the basement and garage. The first major programme of alterations and additions occurred in 1970. Substantial alterations were carried out to accommodate the James Hardie Company in 1978. Robertson & Marks were responsible for a substantial up grade in 1983 for the same company. R and M Plans are held by NSW State Library

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
James Hardie House has particular associations with a well known Australian firm James Hardie. It also has a long association with the established architectural practice of Robertson & Marks. Generally, it reflects an important period of city development during the 1920s-1930s and the selection of Sydney as a site for corporate offices.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
James Hardie House is a strong corner building with vertical emphasis in its modelling. In the Stripped Classical idiom, it is important as evidence of the evolution of Inter-war office buildings from the Commercial Palazzo style to the Art-Deco style. It contributes to the townscape quality of the area more due to its bulk and corner location rather than fine aesthetic attributes.
SHR Criteria g)
James Hardie House is representative of eclectic Stripped Classical style widely used in commercial city building of the Inter-war period. It exhibits Art Deco influences as a transition of styles although not as strongly as the Grand United Building (refer no 2048) or Transport House (refer no 2116). The building has a long historic association as the headquarters of a well-known Australian firm for over six decades.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

General: A heritage assessment is required to guide the future use, works and maintenance of James Hardie House. The external form and scale of the building should be preserved. Exterior: Future development should preserve the external fabric and finishes. Research the original colour scheme and repaint in an appropriate manner when the opportunity arises. Interior: The degree of internal alterations and unsympathetic fitting of modern windows provides scope for adaptive re-use to continue a process which has kept the building facilities up-dated. The building should be retained and conserved. A Heritage Assessment and Heritage Impact Statement, or a Conservation Management Plan, should be prepared for the building prior to any major works being undertaken. There shall be no vertical additions to the building and no alterations to the fa├žade of the building other than to reinstate original features. The principal room layout and planning configuration as well as significant internal original features including ceilings, cornices, joinery, flooring and fireplaces should be retained and conserved. Any additions and alterations should be confined to the rear in areas of less significance, should not be visibly prominent and shall be in accordance with the relevant planning controls.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney Local Environmental Plan 2012I1985*14 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 1984Martin Place Civic Design Study
Written 1929Building, p31, 13 May 1929, (Journal).
Written  SCC Records (DAs, BAs)
Written Brian McDonald and Associates2002James Hardie House, 65-69 York Street, Sydney : conservation management plan
Written Brian McDonald and Associates2002 Former James Hardie House, 65-69 York Street, Sydney : maintenance plan
Written Brian McDonald and Associates2002 Former James Hardie House, 65-69 York Street, Sydney : interpretation plan
Written Brian McDonald and Associates2001James Hardie House, 65-69 York Street, Sydney : heritage impact statement
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2423861

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

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