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Transport for New South Wales’ (TfNSW) new Customer Service Centre at Circular Quay is designed to help visitors with trip planning for all public transport in NSW. The 66-square-metre project may be small in size, but it required extensive design, heritage and technology considerations by the DesignInc Sydney Interior Design team to ensure it operates efficiently and improves the customer experience.

“Transport for NSW required a space that would improve the customer experience at Circular Quay, making transport information and services more accessible to visitors, while also meeting staff needs and providing a safe and functional working environment. It also needed to recognise the historical significance of the site and celebrate the heritage value of the building,” says Senior Interior Architect Violetta Boyd.

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The Customer Service Centre occupies two former tenancies on the ground concourse of the 1940s heritage-listed railway building: a walk-in face-to-face service centre and a hole-in-the-wall ticketing office – both of which needed an interior and exterior upgrade. DesignInc demolished the wall between the tenancies and widened the entrance with bifold doors to unite the separate spaces. This provides a greater area to accommodate increased visitor numbers and circulation, thereby reducing queues, and offers a more open and inviting centre.

There are two service ticketing counters inside and a small staff storage and tea preparation zone behind the service-counter wall. This back-of-house area was originally intended only for storage, but DesignInc recognised the opportunity to provide staff with a private space to retreat when needed. The service counters have extensive IT and security input, and wall monitors provide relevant, accessible information for customers.

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The interior is a light, bright and inviting space with finishes that pay respect to the unique nature of the surrounds. A sandstone wall reflects the local geology and terrazzo tile flooring complements the exterior of the building. A grey metallic panelled wall is a simple backdrop behind the counter, adorned with TfNSW logos. Curved strip lighting across the ceiling has a modern, minimalist and timeless quality.

DesignInc collaborated with the TfNSW graphics team to create the wave-like film adhered to the curved glass wall, which provides staff with privacy while still allowing natural light to filter into the interior.

The external façade of the Customer Service Centre respects the heritage characteristics of the railway building. DesignInc enlisted advice from a heritage specialist during all phases of the project from feasibility, concept and planning to the detailed design, heritage assessment and approval, through to construction and finalisation. The challenge was to conserve heritage characteristics of the building and minimise impact on the structure while upgrading the space to meet modern transport and workplace standards.

“Many small-scale projects have their own unique complexities and this 66-square-metre project had all disciplines on their toes. The success of this project weighed heavily on team coordination, high-level management strategy and workspace efficiency,” says Violetta.

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With 35 million customer trips every year, Circular Quay is one of Sydney’s major transport interchanges. The new Customer Service Centre caters for current and future visitor traffic, making transport within and around Sydney more accessible for locals and tourists.