Smith St (ware)house

The narrow inner city street has a contrast of industrial and residential uses however this is the first house in the street within an industrial building. The existing 300 square metre warehouse had a private rear yard behind full height metal sliding doors. A dividing wall through the existing warehouse facilitated sufficient space for two new dwellings.

The change has maintained much of the former industrial building's character. The original street frontage is fully intended to dramatically contrast with the unexpected interior which retains the former character whilst meeting the demands for accommodating a young family.

Through-views from street to rear were crucial to maintaining the depth of space that was a privilege to inherit in the existing building. Most internal walls run parallel to the through views and establish a physical reverberation off the central wall between the two new dwellings. Closed rooms such as the upper level bedrooms run along the dividing wall. In contrast the opposite side wall is relatively intact and runs along larger spaces which capture the openness of the warehouse.

New steel beams span the full length of the interior to establish a new upper floor, the underside of which reveals exposed floor beams with long stripes of continuous diffused fluorescent lighting.

The upper floor is more refined - a lime-stained timber and wall finish reflects the increased natural light from the saw-tooth windows. The internal duality is furthered by the sense of elevation in the original space being enhanced by sky-views from within soft white plasterboard-lined bedrooms in contrast to the industrial aesthetic of galvanised metal sheet and formwork ply used throughout the open spaces.

 

Sections of expanded metal subtly disguise two new introduced north-facing skylights and enable the perceived retention of natural lighting effect via the original south-facing highlight windows whilst providing new light sources. The directional slippage in the expanded sheet on the raked ceiling ensures low-level winter sun is permitted and cutting out the higher-angled summer sun. This directional quality of the sheet is used in screen walls to the bedroom level, thus managing privacy via imperceptible changes in the direction of the grain of the expanded metal sheet.

Despite it's rawness, a playful character is present, such as rock climbing grips as door handles and the existing metal clad rear wall which can slide open to reveal the large internal space to the secluded rear yard - seemingly can-opened to form new windows with fold-out blinkers on the exterior like an advent calendar.

Photography by Jonathan Wherrett