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East Gallery House


This article originally appeared in inside 93 – available now on newsstands, or digitally through Zinio.

Practice – ROAM Architects
Project – East Gallery House
Location – Brighton, Australia
Text – Adrienne Hughes
Photography – Dianna Snape

It is rare that DiPell vintage bike tape makes an appearance in an interior, and for most this would be either a gratuitous Band-Aid of quirk or as part of an actual bike. For East Gallery House, the inclusion (as a wrapping for the art wall handles) is subtle, interesting and make a direct reference to the client’s love of cycling. “It’s a nice little touch and what we like to find for all our clients – one thing that is reflective of the client and their taste and gives them a story that personalises it for them,” says ROAM principal Rod Allan (ROAM is a partnership between Allan and Amanda Robinson). From a non-cycling perspective, it defies instant recognition and is simply a very nice solution of nuanced leather that feels warmly familiar.

The project has been designed as a gallery space of white walls, timber floors (Woodland European oak – Hunter Grey) and black steel. Allan is no stranger to the design of galleries, having worked with BVN in Melbourne as a practice director where he was responsible for projects including Allens (legal fitout). In the UK he worked with Dutch architect Erick van Egeraat, where he was project architect for the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima). Both of these projects have a focus on exhibiting art in different settings and it is within this typology screens make an identifiable correlation to art storage racks.


Developed for the project, the two custom screens in black steel and metal mesh are held at the bottom with a unique system of steel ‘pins’ eliminating any need for a floor track. Accommodating and easily facilitating the rearrangement of a constantly growing art collection, the screens act as both wall and divider. They also answer the lack of walls houses are often left with once spaces are opened.

The ‘wow’ element of the design, however, is the staircase. In keeping with the client’s love of art, it affords the space a grand sculptural form that is visually striking. Equally important, it is highly functional and designed to optimise spatial organisation. “Not wanting to significantly reconfigure the first floor, we knew we needed to redesign the stair to allow views out and maximise light, without moving the stairwell,” say Allan and Robinson (who has previously worked with HOK in London as an associate, where she was responsible for retail, workplace and master planning projects).

Rising from a timber platform, the black steel and timber staircase features open treads to allow light and views to continue, while careful concealment of a wider top portion has allowed the stairs to read as a straight line when viewed from below. It is, however, the groupings of triplicated black steel verticals that make the whole so visually robust and holds the room so well.

“It was import that it wasn’t a ‘not there’ stair. It needed a physical presence while providing a visual element to act as the counterpoint to the screens and floor: a third element that balances the whole,” says Allan.


And then of course there is the incredibly beautiful and equally sculptural form of the Parachute light by Ligne Roset (Domo) directly above the dining table. This is an exceptional choice and feels well-curated as the only statement light on this floor, where the remainder of the lighting is simple downlights by Artemide. The exception to this rule is the bathroom, where a single Potter lamp in dove grey by Anchor Ceramics provides a gentle balance and domestic charm that bucks the hotel lighting many bathrooms suffer.

Further to the gallery tone the kitchen is aesthetically attuned to the materiality of paired stone and timber. Uncluttered and sparse, the cabinetry of European oak has been stained to match the floorboards, while the island and splashback in Calacatta marble (CDK) allows the full impact of a well-selected piece of marble’s broad grey stripe. “We spent a day in the stone yard choosing and working out how to match the streak from the horizontal to vertical and back to the splashback beyond,” says Robinson. There is even a simplicity to appliances with wall ovens, gas hob and integrated dishwasher by Bosch and an integrated fridge and freezer by Miele, each providing a continuation of the low-clutter, high-quality appeal this space exudes.

One of the delights of this project is the understanding of an art collecting client, in that the newly configured and finished space is both a backdrop to an art collection and nuanced with art-like details. The staircase, while perhaps not a nuanced detail, is unapologetically sculptural, as is the choice of lighting and selection of the marble. It is, however, the tiny details like the DiPell tape and the use of Turkish tiles in the butler’s pantry (Turkish Magic) that give this project just the right amount of nuance to stand alone.


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