Elizabeth Bay Apartment

Elizabeth Bay Apartment

Rolf Ockert. Architect.
Elizabeth Bay, Sydney
Project Year

Elizabeth Bay Apartment

Rolf Ockert. Architect. as Architects

The clients had just bought the apartment on the ground floor of a harbour front block of six in a highly desirable, private area very close to the city. We could build on another apartment fit out we had done together years ago close by. 


The apartment they had bought had the great location and a broad front to Sydney harbour as its core attributes. It is split over three levels, with the main level, the one with the greatest qualities, having been divided into a kitchen area and a bedroom, and the living level having been located below ground. Two bedrooms on the upper level did not require much attention and were in principle left as they were.


We decided to completely rearrange the interior organisation, dedicate the entire main level to day-to day living and turn the former living level into the Master Bedroom Site with Robe and Ensuite. 

Doing this in a rigid space with two other apartments above us required some thinking outside the box and use of specialist methods.


The resulting new apartment has a very open character, allowing view connections, both internal and to the stunning outside, that were previously not imaginable. The living space opens up seamlessly along its full length to a large deck, doubling the living space for all but 2-3 months per year when Sydney gets colder.


Being essentially a low, enclosed space with light and views only to one side we agreed to focus on the materials to be used to be rich and dark, tactile and luxurious. 

Certain materials carry through the entire apartment, such as a matte Smoked Oak veneer and an even matter pigment rich paint. There is none of the usual white in this project, the lightest colour being a grey, equally lush and matte, paint finish to the ceilings throughout. 


Various doors slide and hide to transform the openness into privacy if required or reveal more prosaic areas like laundry and storage when needed. 


Having a richly textured apartment with low ceilings we focused from early on in the design process on the lighting design. Main lighting is provided by recessed magnetic tracks, set flush with the ceilings. Only 20mm wide these magnetic tracks provide an elegant linear structure to the ceilings while, one of the main reasons to select this style of lighting, allow endless combinations of various light fittings to be placed in many locations as well as easily moved or removed. 


Two large gold leaf disk lights in the entry hall evoke a gold leaf niche in the owner's old apartment, embellishing the patina'd brass feature wall they sit on. 


This backdrop is highlighted by some key material insertions, notably a bright brass finish to the kitchen cupboards, a lively green marble to a “floating” cabinet, suspended of a steel column, and a beautifully grained dark granite. One of the main features is a Venetian plaster finish to a newly inserted wall, together with some of the steel details not entirely uninfluenced by a recent re-visit to some projects by Carlo Scarpa in Italy. 

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