Former ANZ Bank Including Interior | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Former ANZ Bank Including Interior

Item details

Name of item: Former ANZ Bank Including Interior
Other name/s: Anz Bank, Union Bank
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Bank
Location: Lat: -33.879171661107 Long: 151.2116648071
Primary address: 21 Oxford Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
21 Oxford StreetSurry HillsSydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The former bank buildingk at 21 Oxford Street is part of the surviving record of early twentieth-century development of the city centre. In particular, it demonstrates the influence of banking on the pattern of growth, together with other banks of the period distributed throughout the core area and fringes of the CBD. It is a good example of the Federation Free Classical Style building, designed by prominent architects Ernest Scott & Green for the Union Bank..

Located on the corner of Oxford and Brisbane Streets, the former ANZ Bank is representative of the Federation Free Classical Style, being well proportioned and detailed in sandstone. It is an important urban building defining its corner location with a 45 degree chamfered facade. Together with adjoining buildings to the east it is a contributing element in the historic townscape of Oxford Street, being included in the National Trust Oxford Street Conservation Area.
Date significance updated: 03 Apr 09
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: Ernest Scott & Green
Builder/Maker: Unknown
Construction years: 1911-1911
Physical description: The former bank building is located on the corner of Oxford and Brisbane Streets. A four storey corner building, it is dwarfed by nearby modern office buildings. The chamfered corner denotes the main entry with a bay window at second level that is crowned by a segmental pediment. The sandstone facade is divided horizontally into three sections and exhibits free use of classical elements. The rusticated base is articulated with arched openings having decorative keystones. The second and third storeys are divided vertically by pilasters with ionic capitals, supporting a projecting cornice. The upper most level appears to be of a different construction period with smooth rendered brick rather than sandstone cladding. Windows are generally double-hung (in groups of three in the mid-section). The lower level retail area has been modified with plasterboard studwalls and plastic ceiling panels. The upper level interiors have been altered to accommodate residential, gallery and office space. Central to the building is a timber stair case with geometrical relief to the balusters and handrail, and a decorative plaster soffit above. Original timber window and door joinery remain along with an original metal lift cage.
Category:Individual building.
Style:Federation Free Classical.
Facade:Sandstone, timber framed windows, rendered brick..
Side/Rear Walls:Rendered brick.
Internal Walls:Plastered brickwork, plastbd & stud, limited glazing, wire mesh structure - clad with plasterbd...
Roof Cladding:Bituminous waterproof membrane, metal sheet (motor room). Internal Structure:Attached piers to side walls & beams..
Floor:Timber, timber boards, carpet, vinyl, slate (entrance), reinf. conc. (rear extension).
Roof:Access not permitted..
Ceilings:Plaster ceiling & cornice, fibrous cement & battens, susp. acoustic panels, plastic panels.. Stairs:Timber treads, carpet & vinyl finish, simple geometric timber balusters and handrail, decorative pressed plaster soffit to underside of stairs.. Fire Stairs: x1.
Sprinkler System:Yes.
Lifts:1 original cage with new veneer walls..
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
In general, the former bank building retains the original sandstone facade and exterior detailing, with additions made to the rear. The interiors have been substantially altered with limited original detailing remaining..
Intrusive Elements:Modern corner entry & awning, signs, internal alterations.
Date condition updated:03 Apr 09
Further information: High Significance:Overall building form and scale, external envelope including sandstone detailing, parapet profile, timber windows.
Medium Significance:Lift cage, plaster ceiling & cornice, elements of original stair.

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: Fast food outlet, offices, gallery, residences
Former use: Bank, 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 )

This building was designed by Ernest Scott & Green in 1911 as a branch for the Union Bank. It remained in use as a bank for most part of the early twentieth-century. The earliest changes made to the original design were recorded in the 1950s. These included alterations to provide staff toilets, a lunchroom, concrete stair and increased bank space. The banking chamber was altered in 1973. In 1992 the ground floor and basement were fitted out to provide accommodation for a restaurant and other retail space.

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]
The former bank building at 21 Oxford Street records the influence and distribution of banking in the pattern of early twentieth-century commercial growth in central Sydney. .
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Associated with prominent architectural firm of Ernest Scott & Green who deisgned the building for the Union Bank.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
It is a good example of the free application of classical forms and ornament to city commercial buildings in the Federation period. It occupies an important corner site, contributing to the historic townscape character of Oxford Street.
SHR Criteria g)
The former ANZ Bank is representative of the Federation Free Classical Style commonly used for financial institutions.
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:

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. General: Future development of the building at 21 Oxford Street should preserve the overall building form and scale. Given the prominent corner location of the building the further addition of new floors would be inappropriate. Exterior: The external stone work, timber joinery elements of external envelope should be preserved. Research should be undertaken to determine the original exterior details, in particular the corner entry and ground floor windows, and these should be reconstructed when the opportunity arises. All intrusive signage and window air conditioning units should be removed, and the windows restored. Interior: The internal form of the building and particular internal elements including the original stair, timber balustrades, handrail, plaster ceiling and cornice, and cage lift, should be preserved. Given the level of remodelling to date, adaptive re-use is appropriate provided that significant internal fabric and the external envelope are not adversely effected.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I158114 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 1911Art & Architecture Vol VIII No. 6 Nov-Dec, 1911
Written  Sydney City Council: BA's & DA's
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenRod Howard Heritage Conservation.200321 Oxford Street, Sydney : heritage impact assessment

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

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2424337

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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