Profoundly transforming interiors is one of our greatest skills, so four small, windowless rooms in an iconic Melbourne CBD apartment building proved an irresistible challenge.
The Hero Apartments – Nonda Katsalidis’ conversion of the post-war Russell Street Telephone Exchange and Post Office building – dramatically altered Melbourne’s CBD skyline in 2001 with its imposing iron and steel sculptural addition. Back then, our clients fell in love with the sixth floor living room views of the city: a world away from Perth, WA, where they’d been living for years.
Fast forward to early 2018 and, now with a young son, the couple was more certain than ever about inner-city living but knew their two-bedroom plus study apartment was due for another incarnation.
Our brief was to design an apartment celebrating Melbourne’s CBD, bringing a sense of place within. Instead, we explored a design solution that reaches further: by widening the genius loci, we bypassed the noise and closeness of the CBD to draw on nature beyond and fond memories of the expansive WA outback.
This set the scene to bring joy to forgotten rooms. The brief included a guest bedroom/study, bathroom, ensuite and laundry. With a growing library of books, and limited storage, the study had become particularly cluttered, but a curved wall here piqued our interest and offered inspiration for this highly conceptual design.
Playing with the illusion of windows, we came up with a grid pattern of floor-to-ceiling open, mirror-backed shelves and cabinetry, reflecting the curved wall opposite and amplifying depth of space. We specified daylight temperature strip lighting hidden above the unit to project upwards onto the ceiling, magnifying the natural lighting effect. At one end of the curve we also added a day bed, with built-in pull-out storage, catering for guests as needed.
To reclaim poorly used space in the bathroom and ensuite we followed a similar approach, dramatically increasing storage capacity and using lighting tricks like reflective surfaces that add brightness without glare and give the illusion of more space. Unafraid to make big moves in an interiors project, we blocked in an unnecessary thoroughfare in the laundry, allowing for more generous storage and bench space.
To complete the personal touch, we took our colour cues from the Western Australian landscape. We chose the cool blues and green hues of native tree species for the ensuite and guest room/study, and for the main bathroom: the blush red tones of fine outback dust.
Construction will commence on Metro Mirage next year.