An Award-Winning Home Designed as a Concrete Bunker

The project brief was to take a relatively ordinary inner-Sydney apartment and turn it into a concrete bunker. The process that I go through on every project that I take those the obvious constraints within a job and really turn them into their strengths. My name’s Matt Woods, I’m an industrial designer pretending to be an interior designer. Perfect Storm is the home of my preferred builder Sam O’Flaherty and his partner Louise.

Sam and I talked often about doing something in here and we played around with a lot of different concepts of what it could be. Ultimately, Sam came to one day and said that he wanted to do a concrete bunker to which I replied “are you sure?” And I’m a big fan of brutalist architecture and that’s where my mind immediately went to when Sam said a concrete bunker. We’re in Camperdown in Sydney; sort of a fringe CBD suburb. Lots of old warehouse converted buildings. Originally this was a 1890s biscuit factory the only thing remaining from the original building fit out was the concrete floor.

We were sort of restricted in that it is obviously a loft apartment and it is has a relatively small footprint. The kitchen and bathroom locations obviously were fixed with their with their services. Sustainability is a big key factor of what we do so I was very conscious of not having too much concrete within the interior space itself.

We’re often being very clever with how we use finishes and one of the things that I have used in the past is a paint finish from Porter’s called a French wash and I knew that we could achieve a very similar finish to what Sam and Lou were after and doing it via the use of a paint finish without having to use extensive amounts of concrete within the interior space. For me when I think of brutalist architecture I think of very simple geometries, not a lot of complexity to the forms.

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The big curved cornice which runs around the whole perimeter is a plaster cornice. The monolithic sort of form of the of the kitchen counter is a simple extruded cog for lack of a better term but it’s a very repetitive form which does happen through brutalist architecture. Part of our general methodology of working is supporting local makers and designers so it was very important to have as much local furniture in here as possible.

So within the stools that we have in here they’re Dowel Jones stools, we’ve got Volker Haug lighting, the custom pieces in here are made by Jonathan West, also Sam has a good relationship with guys over at Fred and I’m a big fan of the Fogoa collection. There are two entries from the apartment; one’s the the main entry which connects to the communal areas of the development, but there’s also an entry that comes in off street level, so coming in off that veranda you come into a central living area which overlooks the the kitchen or the double height ceiling gave us a good opportunity to make use of the big double height glazed wall which faces westwards which was an opportunity to be to be able to play with those more moody tones of the interior and still have it being bathed in light in the late afternoons.

Then coming back into the space obviously the double-heighted ceilings lead up to the bedroom. In the bedroom we have a custom joinery unit. The big halo light which is one of the I guess key design elements of the project is a custom made light which we made out of LED strips. It just made a lot of sense to me to really drag the eye up on entry and just to create that real wow factor within space. Working in a builders home I guess some builders homes are half finished but Sam’s definitely gone to the full effort of making everything perfect and and that’s one of the great things about working with Sam is his attention to detail and you know this is definitely the project I’ve been most happy with. This is an oasis you know, this is an environment that Sam and Lou can escape from their relatively taxing creative jobs and just hide away in their inner-city concrete bunker.

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