- Article by Tili Bensley-Nettheim
Marjorie Dixon and Leah Gallagher of KIN Architects discuss their Torbreck Apartment design.
Much-loved Brisbane icon, Torbreck, is home to this mid-century apartment renovation. The design builds on the liveable housing and subtropical ideals inherent in the 1960s tower to create a sensitive, contemporary addition for young professional couple Mat and Steph. Brick and warm timbers in the Heritage building are complemented through a balance of modest and crafted materials, accented by the trademark blue tones of the façade. Entering under the brass lined ceiling, the outlook over Brisbane is the focus. The timber floor articulates the large living room to create distinct pockets of space, anchored by a crafted island bench, a bespoke piece of furniture. The result is a beautiful and functional interior, a true collaboration between craftsman and cabinetmaker, William McMahon, client and KIN Architects.
What was the brief?
The brief started as a design for an island bench and grew to include the entire apartment. Our clients wanted a Jetsons inspired, mid-century modern kitchen (disguised as a bar). The kitchen sink and cooktop was located in the island, this was to turn the island into a gathering space connected to the view. Half of the living room walls contain concealed storage that can transform the space from dining to entertaining, to quiet study.
What is the conceptual framework of the project?
The planning was conceived as pockets of multifunctional space within the larger volume of the living room. These spaces were designed to complement and enhance apartment living and included: dining, music, entertaining bar, kitchen, TV and study. Each of these spaces is designed to offer a connection to the generous outlook and the broader spatial planning is configured to emphasise the view. The island bench is key to this – it divides the spaces and allows all gathering and food preparation to focus on the view.
What is the relationship of the built form to the context of the project?
Given the historical significance of Torbreck, we endeavoured to evoke a feeling of familiarity between the interior architecture and this mid-century local icon. We consider this a sensitive approach to apartment fitouts, one that is less about trend and more about a focus on connection to the sensibility of place and memory. The existing building features warm brick, mid tone timbers and shades of blue. Our material palette included blue toned tiles and carpet, contrasted by warm colours in timber and brass details, referencing the colours of Torbreck.
Did it set a new precedent for how you approach projects?
It set a precedent for the way we want to be client focused and don’t want to push a particular KIN lifestyle brand. It was a balanced conversation between everyone – KIN as design team, William McMahon as the maker and the clients as the occupants. That’s how we ended up with such a balanced and functional outcome, because everyone was a part of it.
What is your favourite element of the design?
The island bench because you can cook at it and watch TV, but then at the other end you can step off and be at standing-bar height and at eye-level with the dining table. If there’s a party you can have people standing at one end, sitting at the dining table or on the couch and still feel like you’re at one level. That creates a really nice social flow.
Location: Highgate Hill, Brisbane
Architecture: KIN Architects
Size: 50 square metres
Cabinetmaker: William McMahon
Photographer: Christopher Fredrick Jones
This article first appeared in AR163.