Text description provided by the architects. 632 Bourke St has been transformed from a warren of boarding house rooms to a contemporary office and living space called Smart Design Studio. Formerly two adjoining terraces with rear stables, the building occupies a prominent corner position in Surry Hills; its length faces due north and provides an important streetscape to the shared pedestrian roadway of Ridge St. Conceived as a contemporary steel and glass insertion within an existing masonry shell, the building consists of two levels of studios and a rooftop apartment.
The existing shell of the building has been retained with new large vertical openings cut through to reveal a layer of glass louvres framed by deep stainless steel trims. A rigorous grid informed the design approach for the whole building from the steel structure to the tiling setout, workspaces and joinery and lighting, establishing a clear continuity throughout the building. Internally, full height storage bays are located between each window opening and a linear joinery unit conceals the kitchens, WC’s and extra storage which runs the length of the party wall on both floors.
The building is an upfront and honest layering of old and new as expressed by the raw treatment of the exterior façade through to a smooth modern interior. The rooftop addition connects the double height glass banks of louvers with an articulated aluminium battened roof folding down as a screen to the back of the building.
Laid over the Ridge Street façade are new double height openings with frosted glass art panels which are located in the position of each of the original openings. This serves to engage with the collective memory of the local community and contributes a play with light on both the inside and outside of the building.
The working environment has a pleasant outlook with excellent ventilation and natural light which can be controlled by the individual users and has a five star ABGA rating. The courtyard, between the office and rear stables is used as a breakout space and backdrop to the interior. Plantings of Golden Robinias and Liriopes in the garden beds on the northern side enhances the streetscape, contributes to the summer shading of the building and allows for winter sun to warm the interior.
With a multi-layered use of the significant Surry Hills corner building, the building effectively incorporates flexible and functional office interiors and a two bedroom rooftop apartment within a rigorously controlled and contemporary architecture of old and new.
Smart Design Studio is a multi-disciplinary design studio consisting of 30 employees and has won over 25 awards for their diverse range of architectural and interior design projects.