Surry Hills Warehouse
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Surry Hills Warehouse

Interior Designer:
Stephen Collins Design
Thomas Ferguson

When the words "warehouse" and "conversion" are uttered these days, they are sometimes accompanied by a slight, polite exhalation at the thought of another cavernous space with whitewashed walls within which various "zones"  are demarcated by repro mid-century carpets.

This particular inner-city warehouse reuse scheme, then, comes as a very pleasant surprise.

Interior architect Stephen Collins has managed to subvert the genre, in the process creating a nuanced,intriguing but easy living space, which has just taken out the Residential Design award at this year's Australian Interior Design Awards.

Built in 1910, the original red brick light industrial structure that ce served as a transport company car service, political club and nightclub now stands like retains an almost coy detachment from its shell,

From the exterior, on the ground and first floors of a typically shady Surry Hills street, the sandblasted brick and concrete structure fives away little of the goings-on inside, Only the dappled light from a magnolia tree swaying in the breeze behind mottled glass allows an inkling of the newly rich inner life.

Past the somewhat anonymous industrial front door, the visitor is whisked swiftly upstairs into the living area. Like the entirety of the inner organisation, this "open"  living area is in fact a system of cleverly interlocking, often angular zones that at once intrigue and tempt the eye.

Over here, a two-tiered wooden platform in a corner creates an intimate lounging space,

Over there, elegantly cantilevered wooden steps (somewhat in the Japanese style) ascend to an eyrie giving out onto a light-soaked inner courtyard.

It's the owner's sanctum sanctorum, the quit space he most frequently occupies, apart from his elegantly dishevelled home office at the rear of the property.

The fact that the owner plnned to move in, bringing a collection of unique furniture and artwork with him, allowed Collins to build a sense of history into the interior, The result is the ultimate expression of the owner's personality, formded vover time and incarnated in the objects he has accumulated.

Working within the parameters of a 100-year-old building has allowed Collins, he says, "to explore a more particular aestheti using materials I feel more comfortable with: brick, timber, steel, concrete, as both building materials and finished palette.

That these raw or barely treated materials become the finish also allows the expression of labour to determine the final aesthetic outcome, For a warehouse, I think is important."

With reference to history of stucture itself, the building's present , then, is a hymn to ist past and a nod to its future.

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Arne Jacobsen

T33 Toilet brush and holder with lid for wall mounting. Available in polished chrome (16) satin chrome (20) stainless steel (40) brass (19) and a choice of 18 colours.

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