Winkley Workshop is a new three storey 2-bedroom residence on the site of a former upholsterer’s workshop.
The existing single-storey workshop was on a site measuring 12m long by 3.7m enclosed on three sides by adjoining buildings. The structure had been out of use and was in a severe state of disrepair: the concrete roof sagging, timber floor rotten through, front door un-openable and access possible only via the rear doors.
Upon this small plot, the brief was to achieve a 2-bedroom open plan home that had strong interconnectivity between internal and external spaces. In order to accommodate the required internal and external areas the original footprint was increased by digging a new basement and extending the roof, which had to be cranked according to daylight angles to protect neighbouring properties.
To the street the building is a modest addition. The use of traditional red facings and sliding sash windows is conscientious to the existing streetscape and gives the façade a humility that is contrasted upon entry by the open-ness and scale of the property within. Whilst there is a definite threshold at the street entry that you are entering a private home, to the rear the double height glazing blurs the threshold between outdoor and indoor and allows a continuation of program beyond the glazing line.
Given the small footprint, the project was conceived as a vertical stacking diagram with transitioning public to private program applied over 3-storeys. The social, outdoor orientated bottom level interchanges to the flexible public/private second bedroom and guest bathroom on the middle floor, and a private master bedroom and ensuite occupies the top floor.
You arrive at the property from the ground floor street entrance onto a split level landing between the basement stair and upper ground floor stair. This split level allows extra light into the basement and forges a social interaction between arriving guests and home occupants. As you enter you can see to the basement below and out through the ground floor mezzanine to the courtyard beyond.
The basement living area is cosy and private yet enjoys district and sky views, abundant natural light and a connection to the rear courtyard garden. A double height void and expansive glazing links the basement to the mezzanine study/bedroom above. This room, bounded by a bookshelf barrier that hovers in the double height void, has a heavy curtain allows to allow flexible levels of privacy and therefore functionality. The openness of the lower two floors is contrasted by the sense of privacy to the top floor. An enclosed stair and the vertical separation gives the master bedroom an intimate and reclusive feel. The ensuite with skylight is bounded by a joinery wall, leading onto bedroom area and a private balcony. Full width glazing and the open plan detract from the cranked roof, and where head height is too low custom joinery is installed.
To each floor, the plan was arranged to prioritise space according to what is used and enjoyed. Services and back-of-house functions are located out-of-sight under stairs or in zones with poor daylight levels so that the living and bedroom areas are unobstructed and light filled. Internal walls were deliberately avoided to enhance the perceived openness, and thus curtains and joinery are used for privacy and delineation where possible.
The materiality of the stairs and floor finishes changes as you circulate vertically to denote the program of each storey and to play up on the natural qualities of the space.
The basement floor is covered with a herringbone-laid brick paver that continues through to the courtyard. This finish is practical for the social living area and allows the living area to feel like an extension of the garden, but also ‘earths’ the building on its site. The upper two storeys are covered with walnut floors to denote a more private and intimate type of space. Each of the three stairs differs in construction as they are specific to their location and function. At ground level, a perforated folded steel stair sits opposite the south-facing window to allow sunlight to dapple the basement floor and to maintain a visual connection between the basement and the street window. The basement stair is walnut with white lacquered cabinetry under to service the kitchen. The first floor stair is solid steel and sealed with a floating partition to enhance privacy for the master bedroom.
Original bricks to the stairwell wall were left exposed to maximise useable area and to make reference to the buildings history. The texture and colour of the bricks contrast against the new elements: walls are white throughout and black detailing highlights the journey through the house, accentuating handrails, cabinet handles, door hardware and the folded steel plate stairs.