Initially designed for the current owners, what was once two self-contained apartments is now one three-level home, reimagined holistically. Originally designed in 2001 by Cox Carmichael and completed in 2003, the building was almost entirely gutted by Jolson recently. The roof and building envelope have been virtually retained, with the removal of internal walls and floors to allow for fluid and interconnected spaces. The façade, with its inverted arch (responding to its adjoining Victorian neighbours) has been simplified to create a contemporary home.
Although this is a large home, spread over three levels, the spaces are far from overwhelming. The kitchen and living areas are located on the top level to take advantage of the views and light, while the main bedroom suite is on the middle level. Jolson not only strategically zoned these levels to allow for family and guests, but also manipulated the spaces with cleverly concealed sliding doors to create both flexible spaces and privacy when required.
Pivotal to this design is the change in format of the spaces themselves. Previously many rooms featured low ceilings and benefited from having only one aspect. With this substantial renovation, including a monumental void (7 metres in height) with its dramatic curvaceous steel staircase, each of the spaces can enjoy sightlines across each floor plate (east to west).
The dominant cue in driving this design was the curved inverted arch from the original design. The façade was then simplified and the curves became a subtle feature within every space, be it the gentle curved polished plaster walls or the forms of the ceilings. Looking at Jolson’s extensive repertoire of fine bespoke homes, predominantly orthogonal in form, this design presents a new direction for the practice. The Jolson team was also mindful of not only creating the appropriate spaces for their clients but allowing for a more timeless aesthetic that would be as appreciated now, and well as into the future.
Given the vibrancy of the immediate environment, the palette of materials and colours used for this project is deliberately restrained and understated. Materials, for example are limited to stone, used for benches and splash-backs, steel for the staircase, brass for joinery and American oak timber for floors. Jolson took a holistic approach, applying the same level of detail to the garden, as to the home, be it the inclusion of a vegetable garden on the top level to mediate privacy, or the curved stone path in the back garden to reiterate the curvaceous façade and interior spaces.
Addressing the need for privacy from adjoining neighbours also drove the design with Jolson introducing a giant screened portal to engage with the new and layered garden, including a ‘sky garden’ on the top level terrace for edible flowers and herbs.
Restraint and meticulously detailed materials and finishes have elevated this home not just several ‘notches’ but into a new realm. A timeless design, filled with poetic gestures, including reflective sliding doors to magnify the aspect, this home shows how one simple curve can not only inspire the architects, but, as importantly, set them on a new path of discovery. And while this virtually new home is a masterpiece of architecture, it is also a comfortable and functional space for the clients and extended family.