This warehouse conversion completed in April 2015 is in one of Sydney’s most recognised heritage buildings, the distinctive Edwards & Co. building. The building is wedged into a narrow street in the fast regenerating inner-city suburb of Surry Hills. Formerly a tea factory in the 1920s and more recently an advertising agency, the brief was to breathe new life into the 300-square-metre space as a private residence that spans two levels. Level 6 with the iconic arched windows was completely gutted and the former caretaker’s office was demolished and replaced with a guest retreat on the roof, located behind the emblazoned parapet.
The client brief focused heavily on the notions of comfort, practicality and respect for the building. The client, an architect-turned-talented-musician wanted the architecture to be a backdrop that would facilitate everyday living and transform depending who was there. The concept employs a collection of restrained and understated installations that uncovered, retained and celebrated the existing heritage fabric of the building.
A refined and highly-considered minimal material palette of warm grey, timber and smooth white integrated surfaces was chosen for its cost-effectiveness, but also for durability and practicality.
The project is not only sustainable, it’s recycled and it’s full of charm and character. The warehouse is embraced and the conversion lets the layers of history enrich the interiors.
The finished apartment is calm, livable and welcoming.
Questions and Answers
Q. Tell us a little about the client/s – who are they and what (if anything) is unique about them?
The client has a degree in Architecture so we instantly had a connection through our shared backgrounds and respect for the iconic building in which her apartment covered the top 2 floors.
Q. What was the apartment like when you made your first site visit?
It was hard to look past the beautiful arched windows, however the upper 2 floors had been home to an advertising agency most recently and where in need of a lot of love. The space definitely had a lot of potential!
Q. What was the client brief?
The client brief was to convert the upper level office space into a private residence and replace the former rooftop caretaker's flat with a new guest retreat, complete with sauna and private courtyard. The brief focused heavily on the notions of comfort, practicality and respect for the building. The client wanted the architecture to be a backdrop that would facilitate everyday living and transform depending on who was there.
Q. What was the design concept?
The design concept employs a collection of restrained and understated installations to uncover, retain and celebrate the existing heritage fabric of the building. For the installations a highly-considered, minimal material palette of warm grey, timber and smooth white integrated surfaces were selected for their cost-effectiveness, but also for durability and practicality.
Q. What is/was unique or interesting about the site of the project?
The site had very difficult access with the rear lane too narrow for a crane and the heritage significance meant that craning over the front facade was out of the question. The builder designed and built a custom pulley system and all of the building materials were slowly pulled up to the roof deck. Being a heritage item meant that no new fixings or wall chasing could be made into the existing building fabric.
Q. What were some of the challenges of the space?
The building's column and beam structural system allowed for a degree of flexibility in planning, however the apartment had very few service risers. In order to retain the existing concrete slab and beam ceiling system the floor surface was stepped and manipulated so that services could be installed. An elaborate acoustic system was employed in the flooring design so that the client could pursue her love for music without disturbing other occupants of the building.
Spatially the plan works hard. Spaces double-up on functions, such as the lift-well wall supports bikes, the entry channel of marmoleum defines the circulation and is also an area to create art. Lines between functions are blurred with baths entering bedrooms. There are no residual areas, however great care was taken to not over-design the interiors.