Stacked Odds

Turning a Small Inner-City Site Into Prototype for Compact, Urban Living

537 Elizabeth
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Located within a microsite measuring roughly 6-by-30 meters on a prominent corner in the inner-city, the seven-story building works to maximize internal space while engaging the surroundings through its unique form, materiality and programming. Showcasing how to integrate interior design as part of the architectural vision, the building’s 12 curated one-bedroom-plus-study apartments feature full furniture packages and bespoke timber joinery. Spaced two per floor, their simple arrangement takes advantage of natural light and views while the flexible layout of walls and the placement of services allow for adaption to different uses over time, including commercial.

Project details

Forming the southern bookend of a block undergoing considerable growth, the boutique site is an exemplar of how a project can act as a catalyst for innovative urban renewal. The scale and bulk of the building were informed by the surrounding structures—including several new mixed-use buildings, single-story retail, terrace buildings and planned residential developments. Laneway activation between the new and existing buildings as well as retail amenity on the ground floor strengthens the three-way street frontage.

Aesthetics were derived from an analysis of the neighborhood and the desire to create a high-quality residential building. The predominantly board-form concrete surround frame with textural timber imprints provides an expressive element that gives scale to the exposed site and provides a continuous articulation along the street.

Residential levels are articulated by a series of staggered windows puncturing the concrete and porcelain clad exterior. The façade responds to the orientation and the specific environmental conditions; balconies on the east and west provide shade to the living areas, which are further protected by screen panels to avoid heat gain during summer. A communal open space on the roof provides residents with a verdant garden.

The timber motif is carried through to the interiors, with each apartment made up entirely of custom wood components and modules. Timeless and maintenance free, the highly functional joinery optimizes internal space. Sliding American Oak timber panels conceal a fold-out murphy bed for guests, laundry and storage, alongside a complete kitchen and integrated desk and shelving in the media and study space.

The site allows for dual outlook from each dwelling, with glazed doors and large windows to two sides providing ample daylight and natural cross ventilation. Visual and acoustic privacy, storage, and indoor and outdoor space combine with efficient layouts and accessible service areas to offer a rare and versatile urban living environment.

Location
Sydney, Australia
Client
Extern
Size
700 square meters
Status
Built
Completion Date
2019
Collaborators
XL Build
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