A concrete bunker doesn’t often inspire thoughts of a welcoming home, yet architect Matt Woods and his clients found an unexpected muse in brutalist architecture while renovating this minimalist apartment in Sydney's Camperdown suburb.
"The clients were seeking a more minimalist lifestyle and to create a space free of clutter and visual pollution," says Woods of the project, dubbed Perfect Storm. "De-materialization is at the core of the concept, and all elements have been reduced to their bare essentials."
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Woods also believed that brutalism offered a way to celebrate Camperdown’s industrial heritage without falling prey to the overdone warehouse conversion look found throughout Sydney.
Despite the concrete inspiration, Woods used very little cement in the apartment. Working together with boutique construction company Green Anvil Co., Woods achieved a raw concrete appearance by applying Porter’s Paints French Wash over glass-reinforced cement—a style Wood describes as a "new and more sustainable brutalism."
Woods adds: "Each design decision has been rooted in a practice of sustainability, resulting in a materials palette that is environmentally responsible (e.g. VOC-free finishes, strict use of FSC timbers, reduced use of chrome and cement) paired with a construction process that was streamlined to minimize waste."
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To counterbalance the moody concrete tones, the apartment is arranged in an open-plan layout facing a full-height glazed wall that brings in an abundance of natural light. Timber accents lend a sense of warmth—from the film-faced plywood to the American oak joinery—while brass accents and warm-hued statement lighting add a touch of glamour.
"This interior eschews the cliched ‘industrial’ warehouse aesthetic and ubiquitous ‘Sydney’ design approach (read: natural / sea side / light, bright, and airy), offering a fresh, yet site-specific take on the warehouse conversion category," says Woods.
"All elements have been reduced to their bare essentials, resulting in a utilitarian, cave-like sanctuary that is also intimate, light-filled, and homely."