LocationPotts Point NSW 2011, Australia
Architects in ChargeWilliam Smart, Jolyon Sykes, Anita Panov, Sara Gardhouse, Cory Diffin
ClientsEllen Goff & Walt Hiltner / Owner Builders
Text description provided by the architects. Brougham Place is a bold courtyard building in the inner-Sydney suburb of Potts Point. The brief called for a home, office and studio; and the owners brought with them a love of their dense, inner-urban neighbourhood and a passion for Le Corbusier’s houses. They sought a place to live and work that would reflect both the rough grain of the streetscape and their modernist inspiration.
The result is a design consisting of two separate dwellings, a secluded central courtyard and green roof. The two volumes are conceived as off-form concrete boxes sitting atop a sandstone plinth. This sandstone was salvaged from the original building and rough-cut by stonemasons to create a beautifully textured element that wraps around the front facade and side lane of the site. It is a wonderfully tactile surface that enlivens the street and reflects the traditional stone footings of the local terraces and the grand cut-rock faces that line Brougham Street. Above the plinth, the concrete boxes feature large openings infilled with an array of multi-coloured louvre blades. These operable and retractable louvres attenuate visual privacy and light, while the long east-west orientation of the dwelling maximises solar access and the extraordinary view of the city and harbour.
The front building contains the owners’ home and office, while the rear houses a garage with studio apartment above. The planning is based on simple Miesian-inspired volumes: rooms are created by floating platforms, sliding and pivoting planes and joinery pods. On each floor one can move freely around the spaces on all sides, while vertical circulation slips by along the perimeter.
The internal spaces feature a palette of travertine stone floors, off-form concrete walls and ceilings and timber stairs. White joinery is detailed to reveal subtle accents in colours matching those of the external louvres; while timber elements marry with the client’s beautiful antique furniture collection. Carefully detailed joinery pieces are designed as integral to the life and operation of the house: reading lamps, book and touchscreen shelves and a self-opening television compartment unfold from the master bed suite; while a coffee table opens up to reveal a hidden television with speakers, smart devices and storage all concealed inside a deceptively simple form.
The central courtyard extends the internal composition outside, with planes of timber and concrete hovering over a reflective black granite sitting pool. It is a place of calm and introspection nestled between the two dwellings. In contrast, the green roof atop the front dwelling celebrates the exposure of the corner site, akin to a lookout on a rocky cliff.
The clients brought their passion for design to the construction process, taking on the work as owner-builders. Their whole-hearted support for the integrity of the detailing is evident in the finished project which has completely transformed the site to provide contemporary inner-urban living while maintaining a distinct link to the history of the area.
Product Description. The sandstone used to clad the plinth and boundary walls was salvaged from the original building and rough-cut by stonemasons to create a beautifully textured element that wraps around the front facade and side lane of the site. It is a wonderfully tactile surface that enlivens the street and reflects the traditional stone footings of the local terraces and the grand cut-rock faces that line Brougham Street.