- Article by Online Editor
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Like a compendium of stories, this apparently simple multi-residential building by Smart Studio gradually reveals a series of ideas that are both individual and unique, yet combine to create a satisfying whole. With four apartments per floor arranged around a central core, the building’s plan is refined to a clean elegance. Three-dimensional complexity is lent by the creation of two-storey voids behind the street, facing leaves of patterned brick.
The challenges of this site were to provide an optimum level of privacy to apartment residents, while also maximising solar access and outlook. With the narrow building facing a busy road to the north, and accessing district views from upper levels to the south, the double height façade openings, topped by a lightweight metal box, were also our solution. This strategy also enabled the project to achieve more space within a restrictive planning envelope. The outcome is 10 apartments located above basement parking, a ground level retail space on the street frontage, and two commercial tenancies to the southern side of the building.
Inside, the apartments have concrete walls and soffits with spaces flowing around a central joinery-clad box containing the kitchen, bathrooms and storage. Bright and bold open air lobbies are revealed at the heart of the building, while bespoke oversized light fittings, an engine red building number and curling handrails contrast playfulness against the more austere masonry finishes.
The aim is to create an exemplar medium-density infill containing quality housing, reflecting an increasing public awareness of and desire for good design. The building sits comfortably in its context and its warm grey brickwork takes its cues from its neighbours and the street. Fenestration is balanced carefully with solid walls to create attractive patterns whilst discreetly accessing sun and views.
An intensive process of co-ordination and planning was undertaken with structural and services designers to ensure concrete could be exposed and services be concealed. In order to minimise cost and accelerate construction the walls of the building are designed in tilt-up concrete, their height carefully set to match the dimensions of the site.
Through its use of masonry, the building has a high thermal mass which is linked to available solar access for maximum occupant comfort. Carefully located CFC cladding conceals insulation to contain interior temperatures.
Each space in and around the building is carefully considered, individually and as part of the ensemble, creating diversity to suit individual needs within a curated composition. The positive outcome of the project reflects the value of investing in quality design.
Working with Edra from the start, Italian designer Francesco Binfaré has produced some of the brand's classics, including the recent Pack and Chiara sofa.