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what.    2 bed, 1 bath apartment

where.  st lucia, qld

when.   2010

wow.    63sqm

           Camera Obscura

Inventive efficiency was the motivating idea behind the renovation of FIVE157 - the Swiss Army Knife and the humble timber panelled caravan setting the benchmark. With ambiguous spaces and a lack of storage in the original unit, the challenge was to realise spaces that served their own function, whilst at the same time contributed to the amenity of adjacent spaces. This was successfully achieved through the crafting of a variety of functional, compact, multiple-use, inter-related joinery pieces that became integrated walls, cupboards, shelves, wardrobes, display cases... serving to define and shape the new spaces within the unit.

A framed slot at eye level – which is at times mirror, window, bookshelf, display nook, artwork, dry-bar - stitches together the various spaces within the unit. Carpeted platforms serve as both physical and material transitions to the more relaxed zones of the unit and a minimal palette of humble yet glamorous materials, textures and colours lend the interior a sense of drama and mystery. Flexibility of spaces was paramount, the end result being spaces that can perform multiple functions, from an entry library that is also broom cupboard and walk-in-robe, to a study that becomes a dj booth, for a dance floor that was once a dining area.

Whilst an interior renovation, the public domain benefits with the introduction of a laser cut ply panel adjacent the front door serving to help visitors’ wayfind, as well as to illuminate stairs in the evening.

The renovation respects the neighbouring units within the small ‘5-pack’ by leaving the shell untouched, and by employing humble materials, which sit harmoniously with the brick exterior. The renovation also responds to the opportunities presented by high raking ceilings to efficiently and inventively create more space.

With a budget of less than $90,000 to completely renovate the entire interior of the unit including fixtures, fittings – it was important that savings were made at every step. The inventive reinterpretation of existing internal layout minimized the demolition required, and hardwoods that could be salvaged were re-milled and re-used as structural elements, kickboards and battens.

Excluding the kitchen and bathroom, I fabricated all spaces within the unit with generous help from my father. Joinery units were detailed to often serve more than one function in multiple spaces, thereby gaining maximum usage from minimum material. Detailed cutplans were created to ensure minimal wastage. The resultant off-cuts were then imaginatively assembled to form the random mosaic plywood puzzle wall of the second bedroom. 

Soft carpet underfoot and the use of fabrics in areas of relaxation, contemplation and reflection are set against the robustness of hardwood floors in circulation areas, and stainless steel and ceramic tiles in areas of activity. Most spaces benefit from flexible, re-locatable and dimmable lighting.

The renovation has efficiently re-imagined the existing layout to provide more storage, and rooms that each provide their own sense of place whilst harmoniously sitting beside their neighbouring spaces – much like the Swiss Army Knife and it’s nest of tools.

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