When originally seeking planning approval for a small infill apartment building in inner city Sydney, authorities required a commercial tenancy at street level. Once completed, there was little demand for commercial space, so the developer sought approval to convert the street level tenancy into an apartment.
The structural design of the original building resulted in the availability of space below street level. However, there were several obstacles complicating the proposed transformation into an apartment. Light and ventilation were only available at street level, while the apartment would feature a basement. Also, the immediate frontage to the footpath presented privacy issues.
To address these challenges – while still creating a comfortable and private apartment – our scheme locates living spaces to the basement, with light and ventilation provided by periscope access at each end of the living space. The below-ground location of the living spaces means they maintain a comfortable temperature year-round.
A stair is located inside the façade, with a sunken courtyard and a circular stair at the other end. Bedrooms are located at ground level, with external screening and the stair void providing additional privacy and separation between the front bedroom and the footpath.
A perimeter beam in the basement level is a concrete ribbon that fulfills multiple roles. At various points it is a stair, a bench seat in the sunken courtyard, a low shelf and a kitchen bench. The privacy screen to the street and the stair balustrade are made of metal grilles originally fabricated for agricultural use as livestock flooring.
The detailing for the apartment is direct and consciously unfinished.