Award: Architecture Award in the Heritage
Creative Adaptation

Jury Citation

Perched on a seaside cliff since 1911, the Imperial Hotel building in Clifton NSW enjoyed a colourful life until a landslide forced the closure of the main road to the town in 2003 and it gradually fell into neglect.  

This project has successfully reinstated this well-loved building at the centre of this regional community. 

The new work is handled playfully, retaining legibility of the original hotel while making strong and direct interventions.  This has allowed the hotel to retain its landmark qualities as an important and active element within the local community.  The decision to treat it as a precious archaeological artefact – revealing layers of construction, care, attention and specificity in the demolition – has proved popular with the local community as a much-loved celebration of its role in time and place.  The architects commendably resisted the urge to carry out a conjectural reconstruction of the front verandah, and rebuilt it in its known earlier form using contemporary detailing. 

Award: Master Builders Association – Excellence in State Awards
Construction (Commercial) Hospitality Buildings – Refurbishment
Joint Winner

Jury Citation

The Imperial Hotel at Clifton was built in 1911 and closed in 2003. This heritage listed site has now been restored to welcome a new generation of locals and visitors.

Throughout the restoration it was imperative that the building’s main features and character have been preserved. Many finishes were restored to their former glory, including the front verandah, the timber staircase, fireplaces, and brick arches. As well as this, displays of miscellaneous articles found during the works have been carefully placed around the rooms.

There was no sewer or stormwater infrastructure within the original property and the building’s structural integrity was a concern and therefore addressed at an early stage. Access was also limited, making delivery difficult.

To counteract these issues, extensive geotechnical investigations were required to design loadings on the cliff edge.

The Imperial at Clifton deserves recognition for its creative use of modern and new to compliment the original hotel. This is a significant addition to the history and community facilities at Clifton.

In the media…

The Sydney Morning Herald
Road trip! NSW’s 10 best regional pubs of 2023

There are pubs with views, and then there is this grand old Illawarra boozer, perched on a narrow, curving coastal road and overlooking the ocean in all its majesty. After a recent renovation, many of the Imperial’s original features have been saved or brought back, including the marbled-honey tiles, and five (five!) original working fireplaces. The steak sandwich with chimichurri isn’t bad either.

Best for: Prawn rolls and counting ships on the horizon.

The Imperial at Clifton