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  1. ArchDaily
  2. Projects
  3. Apartment Interiors
  4. Australia
  5. Clare Cousins
  6. 2013
  7. Flinders Lane Apartment / Clare Cousins Architects

Flinders Lane Apartment / Clare Cousins Architects

  • 01:00 - 18 July, 2014
Flinders Lane Apartment / Clare Cousins Architects
Flinders Lane Apartment / Clare Cousins Architects, © Lisbeth Grosmann
© Lisbeth Grosmann

© Lisbeth Grosmann © Lisbeth Grosmann © Lisbeth Grosmann © Lisbeth Grosmann +14

From the architect. Located in a heritage-listed building in Melbourne’s CBD, this project reimagines a 75m2 apartment for a young family. The clients, who were expecting their first child, aimed to convert the existing one bedroom space into an apartment suited to the needs of a young family.

Traditional Japanese houses inspired the two new ‘micro’ bedrooms. The size of the first, just 2m wide, was determined by the length of a single bed; the second, a raised platform to support the mattress-only bed, is cocooned by plywood. Sliding screens permit the room to be visually open providing additional seating to the living space, and like the Japanese inspiration, it can be transformed to a private zone by sliding the screens closed.

© Lisbeth Grosmann
© Lisbeth Grosmann

A nod to Shigeru Ban’s Furniture House, the full-height joinery separates the micro rooms from the living space and is accessible from both sides, providing flexibility in how the storage is used. A mezzanine loft provides a sleeping platform for guests, and access to additional storage. A compact work station is integrated in the nook below. The bathroom is fitted with creatively composed, inexpensive tiles, and gold electroplated tapware, in this otherwise understated city family dwelling.

Design contribution to the lives of the inhabitants

With a footprint of just 25m2 per person, the design minimises the sleeping areas of the small apartment and maximises the living and social spaces to be enjoyed by the occupants.

© Lisbeth Grosmann
© Lisbeth Grosmann

This family made a conscious decision to expand the program of an existing space rather than expand the space required to suit their growing family. Proximity to public transport also makes the family’s decision to live without a car possible. High-density living achieves numerous social, environmental and economic benefits while Melbourne’s numerous nearby city parks, gardens and other public spaces have replaced their need for a traditional suburban backyard.

Relationship of the built form to the context of the project

The clients’ small space and modest budget have been maximised by efficient spatial planning and the creative composition of commonly available materials.

© Lisbeth Grosmann
© Lisbeth Grosmann

The new floor plan makes the most of generous ceiling heights and precisely locates each of the joinery walls to take advantage of the original windows on three of the four perimeter walls. The resulting light filled living rooms provide amenity commonly found in much larger houses. 

Full-height joinery separates the micro rooms from the living space and is accessible from both sides, providing flexibility in how the storage is used.

Floor Plan
Floor Plan

Program Resolution

The clients, who were expecting their first child, aimed to convert the existing one bedroom space into an apartment suited to the needs of a young family.

The first ‘micro’ bedroom, just 2m wide, was determined by the length of a single bed; the second, a raised platform supporting the mattress-only bed, is cocooned by plywood. Sliding screens permit the room to be visually open providing additional volume and seating to the living space, and like the Japanese inspiration, it can be transformed to a private zone by sliding the screens closed.

© Lisbeth Grosmann
© Lisbeth Grosmann

Integration of allied disciplines

Unique site constraints were overcome through close collaboration with the builder. A pulley system was employed to hoist plywood and other building materials over the apartment’s balcony, avoiding the need for a costly crane in the busy lane, or time consuming manual lifting up the heritage building’s narrow stairs.

Floor Plan
Floor Plan

The singular use of plywood not only enhances the perception of space, but also provides dual cost-benefits; plywood is affordable and readily available, and much of the joinery was designed to be constructed by a carpenter, further minimising construction costs.

Cost/value outcome

This project demonstrates that compact inner-city living and functional family homes need not be mutually exclusive. The clients’ decision to remain in a small space allowed their modest budget to be maximised by efficient spatial planning and a creative composition of commonly available materials.

© Lisbeth Grosmann
© Lisbeth Grosmann

The reduced palette of materials used throughout the project not only enhances the perception of space, but also provides dual cost-benefits; plywood is affordable and readily available and much the joinery was designed to be constructed by a carpenter, further minimising construction costs. Creatively composed inexpensive bathroom tiles are elevated by gold electroplated tapware.

Sustainability

This project demonstrates that high density inner-city living and modern, functional family homes need not be mutually exclusive. The benefits of small scale living become apparent in numerous ways; mechanical heating and cooling of the family home is reduced to little more than a single room, while proximity to public transport makes the family’s decision to live without a car possible.

© Lisbeth Grosmann
© Lisbeth Grosmann

The clients’ small space and modest budget have been maximised by efficient spatial planning and the creative composition of commonly available materials. The new floor plan makes the most of generous ceiling heights and precisely locates each of the joinery walls to take advantage of the original windows on three of the four perimeter walls. The resulting light filled living rooms provide amenity commonly found in much larger houses. 

© Lisbeth Grosmann
© Lisbeth Grosmann

In our increasingly consumer culture, there’s something serene and comforting about a lack of excessive ‘stuff’. Carefully considered storage provides space for each family member’s essentials, yet limits consumption and places greater value on the objects that they have chosen to live with. 

Heritage Significance

Conceived over 100 years ago as a commercial office building, the heritage listed Bible House building was converted to small apartments in 1997. Although one of the earliest successes of Victoria’s Postcode 3000 program aimed at attracting residents to Melbourne’s CBD, inefficient spatial planning limited both the function and amenity of the existing one bedroom apartment.

© Lisbeth Grosmann
© Lisbeth Grosmann

To suit their growing family, the clients made the conscious decision to expand the program of the existing small dwelling rather than relocate to larger low-density housing in the suburbs. Inspired by space-conscious Japanese design, the resulting family home efficiently addresses all of the clients’ needs within a footprint of just 25m2 per person.

The gradual densification of program within this single apartment over time reflects the current necessity for high-density living within our existing built environment. The sensitive adaptation of existing heritage spaces to suit the requirements of their users is fundamental to the sustainable development of our inner city.

Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite: "Flinders Lane Apartment / Clare Cousins Architects" 18 Jul 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <http://www.archdaily.com/525243/flinders-lane-apartment-clare-cousins-architects/>
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