Sydney architecture practice Retallack Thompson has recently refurbished this light-filled, one bedroom apartment for a family of five on one of Potts Point’s most coveted streets – Challis Avenue, Australia.
It all began with a series of questions. “To what degree can the spaces of our homes feel individual and separated, yet foster interaction across them? How can the inhabitants perform rituals of dwelling in various parts of the home while maintaining a connection?,” pondered Retallack Thompson.
The ‘Esquire’ inter-war Art Deco apartment building is imbued with humane proportions and details, yet suffered from being too compartmentalized for modern living. The client purchased the one bedroom apartment to act as their city “nest” – a small place in the city for them to hide out for a weekend or host family and friends when they came to town. Therefore, the apartment had to have an ability to expand and contract to accommodate 1 to 5 people at a time.
Besides the bedroom, the living and dining nook can be converted into sleeping quarters which provide a degree of separation and privacy from one another. Fold down beds are concealed within the walls of the living space whilst the generous bench seating and retractable Eileen Grey Jean table to the dining nook allows for the provision of a fifth sleeping area.
It is during the day, with potentially 5 people occupying the apartment at any one time, that careful consideration of the functions of the apartment are most required. The intervention saw the removal of three walls to create a greater connection for inhabitants across living, dining and cooking areas.
The apartment’s ground plane is opened up to give an increased sense of space, yet thresholds are maintained between them through the downturns of the ceiling and subtle changes in material and finishes. The design attempts to find a balance between the removal of barriers to the inhabitants’ interactions whilst still clearly defining zones of service, living and rest.