Text description provided by the architects. Early site inspections at the c.1887 former Foy and Gibson historic brick warehouse complex revealed an apartment fit out with a series of unfortunate conversions. Perhaps described best as a ‘fire-trap’, we began exploring conceptual possibilities relating to the tinderbox and its three core elements. Comprising flint, tinder, and firesteel, this common 18th century fire starting kit inspired a material narrative. Accent colors in red and yellow, light timbers with exposed joists and battens, exposed metalwork, and charred or blackened finishes formed the palette for the loft refurbishment.
Beyond the largely intact, uniform and industrial-scale brick façade, the existing apartment fit out had turned its back on the voluminous proportions of the historic shell. By reconfiguring the mezzanine and service spaces to promote natural daylight, ventilation, and inter-level connectivity, the spatial planning dramatically increased amenity while providing a greater number of bedrooms, washrooms and elongated kitchen space for a growing family. Creating a double-height void adjacent to the existing brick façade, the loft refurbishment allows the uniquely voluminous space to be expressed and the intended scale perceived.
Our clients prioritized internal connectivity and flexibility to adapt to an evolving lifestyle. To accommodate a study, breakout, or play space upstairs while simultaneously maintaining a visual connection to the open plan kitchen, living and entertaining spaces below. By pushing the services spaces to the rear of the plan and stepping the mezzanine around a central double-height space has ensured this intent was attained. In a former life, the VHR listed c.1887 Foy and Gibson Complex served as large-scale factory warehouse.
This historic envelope was left intact and the scope of the project limited to interior refurbishment works. Through revealing the internal volume, material quality, and proportions, Tinderbox House promotes tactile and visual connection to the immediate site context and more broadly to its place within the Complex. While perhaps considered inherently sustainable for being an adaptive-reuse project, Tinderbox House employs a ‘long life, loose fit’ strategy that enables the historic structure to remain in tact while creating a robust and enduring fit-out.