Bellevue Hill Apartment

We were approached by a bachelor who had just bought a penthouse apartment in an upmarket suburb of Sydney's East. The apartment occupied the entire top floor of a 1940's building and had great views over Sydney harbour.
On the downside it was not very well laid out and the living area was small. The connection of the living area as well as access to the large terrace was also not ideal. We therefore proposed a mixture of major building work in one , living,part and minor corrections in the other, bedroom, part of the apartment. The former wall to the terrace was removed completely and replaced with a glazed extension that not only enlarged the critical living room area but also allowed a wide panoramic view as well as enjoyment of the existing mature trees.

The interior layout is defined by full height, gently sweeping “spine” wall of dark African Wenge wood veneer. This element connects the entry and the living area and leads the visitor into the heart of the apartment's living area and rectifies the previously disorienting organisation of the apartment.
Several existing internal walls were removed to make the Kitchen/Living area as generous as possible. An existing widening in the corridor was integrated in the living zone as a bar area for the wine loving client. The resulting sequence of spaces, starting from the entry, guided by the soft 'flowing' veneer clad spine wall, results in an apparent spatial generosity beyond its actual square meterage.
A“ribbon” of custom made joinery, containing a multitude of uses, follows this sequence of spaces on the wall opposite the spine, thus tying the spaces together. Due to this common element the spaces are read as connected and belonging together. The shape of that joinery ribbon also enhances and emphasises the outline shape of the existing apartment walls.
The veneer was chosen as Pacific Walnut, lighter and more lively grained than the Wenge on the wall to give this element its own independence and playfulness.

The Kitchen is partly hidden behind the veneer wall. As a result the more utilitarian zones, fridge, ovens etc are not dominant from the living space while the benches, preparation areas are in direct contact with the living and Dining areas. The shapes again help to soften the transitions between zones and to be read in conjunction with other elements as a family of new insertions versus the existing.

The layout of the Bedroom part of the apartment was left largely as existing, with minor adjustments. All new built-in joinery picks up on design clues and materials from the living part of the apartment to ensure continuity.

The terrace decking and new steel balustrade extension, required by modern building regulations, are ostentatiously “Ocean liner style”, a reference to not only the era and style of the existing apartment block but also the magnificient views over Sydney Harbour. Photos by Sharrin Rees