Whiting Architects is an architecture and interiors design practice based in Melbourne, Australia. Architect Steven Whiting and Creative Director Carole Whiting oversee a busy studio and a staff of 8.
They were approached by the clients on Beaconsfield Parade to create “a piece of serenity in the city” by refurbishing their existing 1970′s, 3 floor penthouse apartment.
This was an exciting challenge as it was a neglected, cold and poorly planned 70′s apartment but had magnificent 360 degree views. Because it was a very constrained site/penthouse apartment serviced by one small lift, they say it was like building a ship in a bottle!
The entry and arrival were a key part of the design response as the existing entry was like a backdoor service area, drab, dark and oppressive. A tight space which opened into a laundry and a doglegged concrete stair which dumped you unceremoniously in the living area.
Whiting Architects introduced a “box” to frame the entry and offer an arrival experience. The base of the box formed the first step. It is necessary to walk up inside and throughout this box to arrive at the landing.
Once they had resolved the entry issue, Whiting developed the idea of the ‘box form’ throughout the apartment to create a very architectural interior landscape.
The box forms, conceals and reveals, wraps existing load-bearing walls to break up the impact of the existing structure. They are ordering devices which clad screen and define area and use. They support kitchen appliances, house clothing, conceal walls and services and act to provide the unified theme, which binds the design together.
Whiting Architects aimed for long gestures to accentuate a quality of space, create focal points and axis much like traditional urban planning just adjusting size and scale to suit.
The space is for 2 people thus internal doors are rarely shut – so they dissolved doors into wall panelings to become part of the joinery.
Whiting: “There is something interesting in the duality between the permanence of the massive solid brick & concrete 70’s building and the temporary / transient nature of modern renovation.”
“We wanted the user to ‘curate’ the space we helped create; that is, we bring things to their ‘personal museum’ and they bring things and arrange these things, we facilitate a ‘process of operation’ helping them to programme the way they live. In this context it becomes a very natural process, like nesting.
It’s primal and really there is no more important or profound thing than helping to make a home for someone. We are inspired by our children’s memories of the places they grew up (with-in)
It’s about interior interaction not facade, the interior is the thing that impacts; the architectural envelope is matter-of-fact. The type and quality of space my children had was important and this apartment is an excellent example of decoration/interiors over architecture/exterior and it also demonstrates how ‘architectural’ an interior can be. Our process is more intuitive than formulaic. Restraint is a great design tool, when to stop/when is the idea ‘enough.’
Incorporate an appropriate ‘warm’ palette tied together through primary forms materials & texture, Use timber, steel & stone, cementitious screed floor, develop a language through box forms in stained oak, wet areas clad in French limestone set into primary forms & panelised wall planes placed in opposition to each other. Keep the background intentionally neutral allowing furniture, rugs & artwork to provide accent colour.The apartment is intended as a backdrop for the way in which Louise & Julian live their lives.”
Provided new, more energy efficient heating and cooling disconnection from as much ‘body corporate plant’ as possible & provide new inverter technology A/C plant, localized exhaust fans / exhaust systems & rationalise ducting for better efficiency, replace existing bi-fold doors for double glazed argon filled doors with fully weather proofed & sealed doors / provide new weather seals to all existing windows. The apartment ‘shell’ comprises a concrete floor & roof with masonry walls so the space is well insulated. All external windows were serviced & made operable to catch sea breezes & cool changes.