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When architect Stuart Murray of Anchor Mortlock Murray &Woolley looked at the highly sculptural building he'd designed in Elizabeth Bay, Sydney, when it was completed in 1968, he realised that it had been I inspired by two things: firstly, the Einstein Tower in Potsdam, designed by Erich Mendelsohn in 1919 and later demolished by Adolf Hider; and secondly, a Charles Rennie Mackintosh residence near Glasgow called Hill House, which reminded Murray of a Scottish castle. He was therefore delighted when the current owner of the top-floor apartment referred to the building as his 'castle'.
With its interesting and varied parentage, Deepdene - named after the Victorian house that once stood on the same block - is an unusual building. It comprises only five apartments spread over seven storeys, with the two accessed from the ground level extending to the first floor. The two apartments above are both split over two storeys (sleeping accommodation up, living areas down), and the top floor is occupied by one apartment.
The building's method of construction is also unusual. The lower levels (walls and floors) are built in reinforced concrete, while the superstructure consists of precast concrete loadbearing panels forming the walls, with precast T-beam floor panels spanning the full width of the building. Because of the narrowness of the block, from the street the building appears lean - almost tower- or fortress-like. The exterior western face is a sweeping concave curve; the stairwell facing the street, a sharper convex curve. Inside, it is almost as if Murray had an aversion to sharp corners. Banks of built-in cupboards have their corners softened, stair walls and balustrades turn back on themselves with sweeping grace and where bathroom walls change planes, it's always in gentle radii. Deepdene is one of those iconic apartment blocks, not just because of its location (at the end of Elizabeth Bay Road, with north-east views across the Harbour) or its architectural merit, but because it's a small block and its apartments rarely come up for sale.
He runs a business from home and has converted the first-floor master bedroom facing the Harbour into his office. Behind his desk, a corridor between banks of robes leads to what was the ensuite is an open study; and the next room along, bathroom. Off the hallway outside this room is pposite the stair, is now used as the main bedroom. The existence of two doors into this room betrays the fact that it was once two bedrooms, side by side.
Downstairs there is a powder room beside the front door and a guest bedroom with an ensuite bathroom opposite, followed by a kitchen and a large living and dining room. A change of ceiling heights in this room indicates another structural change in this apartment's favour - part of this room originally belonged to the apartment next door.
Deepdene Image Gallery
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