Text description provided by the architects. The ambition for 102 The Mill was to preserve the industrial and varied history of Balmain while creating an inspiring and generous home. It’s vital for our suburbs to grow and change, however there is an opportunity to balance the use of existing industrial materials with a sensitive selection of new elements that continue to tell the story of the area, while adapting to new uses.
Our client came to us with a Development Application on the site that approved the demolition of all structures on the site, and the construction of a new residential apartment building. However, as a long-term landowner and resident of the area, our client wanted to do something special.
Our response was to re-use the remnant structure and form of the warehouses and create 4 individual dwellings. 102 The Mill is one of these transformations. Using the existing warehouse framework, we were able to create beautiful volumes including a 12m high void that brings light down four levels of winding stairs.
The plan is divided into three areas, from east to west: vertical circulation, a service wall and place for living which is freed from the plan to look outwards. This design strategy allows the most used spaces to experience maximum amenities of light, air and openness through the north, west and south facade.
Inside 102 The Mill, its past industrial life is wonderfully evident. The recycled three storey brick wall follows the staircase up, perfectly complimenting the steel beams elements on display for all to see throughout the home. Enveloped by the staircase, uncovered above the kitchen; The Mill embraces its structural elements instead of hiding them.
Where materials have been inserted or replaced, they’ve contributed to turning a warehouse into a home. Carter Williamson consider tiles as thin bricks, and bricks as thin tiles. Rich black tiles have been used to line warehouse façade to create a new sophisticated identity for the home.
The main sustainability aspects of 102 The Mill are the adaptive reuse of a character filled warehouse that was approved for demolition. The re-use of structural steel, including heritage BHP hot rolled sections, timber flooring, ground floor slab, and brick walls. Through the adaptive re-use of 102 The Mill, the embodied energy inherent in these materials continues to be locked up.
102 The Mill enjoys north facing living spaces, and a 12m void that allows natural daylight through all levels of the home. While, corrugated shutters provide protection from the western sun.
102 The Mill lives and breathes its industrial past; sympathetically updated from a former Balmain timber factory, the building excels through its use of natural, recycled materials, cavernous space and free-flowing design. Penned by Carterwilliamson, the four-storey building stands as an exemplary example of architecture allowing its residences to feel safe and secure, confident and expressive, quiet and reflective; a philosophy of Carterwilliamson. Accommodating four residents across its large living areas, the glossy black tiles and use of natural wood welcome them in through the lit aged steel entrance framed by a tall wooden front door.
Inside The Mill, its past industrial life is wonderfully evident. The recycled three storey brick wall follows the staircase up, perfectly complimenting the patinaed steel beams supporting the staircase. As much an engineering marvel as an architectural, 102 The Mill’s structural elements are on display for all to see throughout the home, enveloped by the staircase, uncovered above the kitchen; The Mill embraces its structural aspects instead of hiding them.
102 The Mill takes full advantage of its north facing location, wraparound windows atop the staircase capture sunlight which effortlessly floods down past the staircase. Corrugated tin awnings not only compliment the glossy black tiles enveloping the west facing façade, but diffuse natural light into the bedrooms.
The motif of natural materials follows further inside, the master bedrooms ensuites tall walls clad with gorgeous light grey fan tiles, perfectly complimented by patinaed steel fixtures. The kitchens, black benchtop and cupboard sit with ease the original untouched wooden ceiling. Leading through the kitchen is The Mills’ large courtyard. Accessible through floor to ceiling sliding glass doors, the courtyard is lined with natural stones and cocooned in tall wood panels, capped in the familiar black steel. The Mills’ façade places utmost importance on its landscaping, set under the master bedrooms balcony sits a small pond lined in the recycled brickwork, skirted by the familiar aged steel.
102 The Mill responds to its context whilst being in dialogue with neighbouring buildings. By maintaining the original height of the warehouse, the street composition is held and the additional third floor balcony reinterprets and is in conversation with the traditional terrace opposite the street.
With these gestures, 102 The Mill acts as a mediator and transition piece as Balmain straddles the past and present, and a place of industry and homes.
The living area is a case in point, where a matte black joinery suite forms the service wall spine releasing the western façade to be a ribbon of sliding windows. The six-metre kitchen island bench sits in the middle of the space as a sculptural meeting point for family and friends to congregate over cooking, eating and conversations.
By embracing its former factory life, The Mill manages to capture the gritty feel of industrial Balmain, sympathetically redefining the traditional Sydney terrace house. The result sits with an inevitability, blending in with its inner Sydney surroundings, yet striking forward as a jewel of modern Australian architecture.
102 The Mill is an example of considering existing buildings as an opportunity can result in the creation of generous, robust, and character filled home.