A Brutalist Apartment Draws Inspiration From a Concrete Bunker
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A Brutalist Apartment Draws Inspiration From a Concrete Bunker

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By Lucy Wang
Inspired by brutalism and the industrial heritage of Camperdown, this apartment for two design professionals evades warehouse conversion clichés.

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." 

All of the lights are equipped with dimming mechanisms, and they emit a honey-hued glow to create a sense of warmth.

All of the lights are equipped with dimming mechanisms, and they emit a honey-hued glow to create a sense of warmth.

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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.

Above the granite counter, a custom light by Volker Haug provides a pop of contrast.

Above the granite counter, a custom light by Volker Haug provides a pop of contrast.

The Anton Mini wall sconces in the entrance hall are also by Volker Haug.

The Anton Mini wall sconces in the entrance hall are also by Volker Haug.

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."

Playful geometry and clean lines also make their way into the minimalist bathroom, which is surrounded by the same "concrete finish" walls used throughout the home.

Playful geometry and clean lines also make their way into the minimalist bathroom, which is surrounded by the same "concrete finish" walls used throughout the home.

Located behind the kitchen beneath the mezzanine, the bathroom makes up for its lack of natural light with bright lights and mirrored cabinets that create the illusion of spaciousness.

Located behind the kitchen beneath the mezzanine, the bathroom makes up for its lack of natural light with bright lights and mirrored cabinets that create the illusion of spaciousness.

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."

A full-height glazed wall allows natural light from the west to filter inside the apartment.

A full-height glazed wall allows natural light from the west to filter inside the apartment.

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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.

The bedroom is located on the mezzanine level.

The bedroom is located on the mezzanine level.

To make the bedroom feel warm and cozy, the architects added American oak floors that match the American oak battens applied to the cabinetry. The carpet is 100 percent wool.

To make the bedroom feel warm and cozy, the architects added American oak floors that match the American oak battens applied to the cabinetry. The carpet is 100 percent wool.

The rounded shape of the mirror matches the curves in the ceiling.

The rounded shape of the mirror matches the curves in the ceiling.

"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.

To add texture in the custom kitchen, Woods covered some of the cabinets and the wall with American oak battens.

To add texture in the custom kitchen, Woods covered some of the cabinets and the wall with American oak battens.

"All elements have been reduced to their bare essentials, resulting in a utilitarian, cave-like sanctuary that is also intimate, light-filled, and homely."

The curved Jardan Valley sofa in green brings geometric interest to the living room.

The curved Jardan Valley sofa in green brings geometric interest to the living room.

The brass sideboard by Jonathan West matches the other aged brass elements in the apartment.

The brass sideboard by Jonathan West matches the other aged brass elements in the apartment.

Perfect Storm ground floor plan

Perfect Storm ground floor plan

Perfect Storm first floor plan

Perfect Storm first floor plan

Related Reading: 25 Modern Homes That Kill it With Concrete

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: KILLING MATT WOODS / (@killingmattwoods)

Builder/ General Contractor: Green Anvil Co.