537 Elizabeth

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

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.

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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.






Sydney, Australia

Completion Date



700 square meters

Builder: XL Build

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This seven-story project forms the bookend of a block currently undergoing considerable urban renewal.

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To meet the requirement barring the use of external finishes, board-form concrete was chosen as the predominant building material.

Timber imprints add textural detail to the concrete surfaces, complemented by the materiality of cladding, balustrades and door frames.

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Residential levels are articulated as a series of staggered windows stamped into the skin.

Each apartment features bespoke joinery components and modules for a wholly integrated and efficient environment.

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The flexible layout means the media and study space readily converts to guest accommodation when needed, with the guest bed concealed in the wall.

Residential levels are articulated as a series of staggered windows stamped into the concrete mass.