Synagogue addition designed to inspire joy and harmony with the surrounding environment

This project involved the improvements and extension of a heritage-listed Synagogue in the inner Sydney suburb of Woollahra. Built in the southern wing of the existing campus, the new two-storey concrete and steel-framed structure comprises a preschool on the ground floor, with a 700-person synagogue facility above. The new pavilion is designed to serve both congregation and wider community - with a sanctuary space that can be adapted from religious services to concerts, performances, films and social functions.

The team was challenged to deliver a ‘simple yet dramatic' design that retained its own identity, while displaying a respectful balance of both heritage and modern, in a facility that resonates joy and harmony with its external environment. The design was dictated by added constraints of a tight budget and restricted space of the inner-city location.

The structural steel wall and roof structure is an expressed tapered diagrid that utilises minimal material to achieve strength and stiffness. Structural engineers worked closely with architects from the earliest stages to develop a clear grid to dictate efficient spans. Complex geometries and connections involved 3D modelling and close collaboration with the fabricator to ensure all angles, sections and tapers could meet at the same point, yet provide minimal tolerances for the builder.

Linking old and new is an elevated courtyard that acts as a transition space - protected from rain by a diagrid steel structure roofed with glass. This is bounded by the façade of the old Synagogue including exposed heritage fabric, and the new sanctuary building.

Client: Emanuel Synagogue

Architect: Lippman

Builder: Belmadar

Value: $5.8M

Completion: 2018

Sector: Art & Culture

Services: Structural, Facade

Emanuel_Synagogue_ACSE Award_Final


  • 2020 – NSW Architecture Award – Commendations for Interior Architecture
  • 2020 – NSW Architecture Award – Commendations for Heritage
  • 2019 – ACSE Small Project Winner