'There are exciting opportunities in the Piper Building,' says Seth Stein. 'It offers large volumes with no structural impediments and that's very unusual, normally one expects some restraint.' Stein's architecture is concerned with simplicity, purity of form and the way in which light and texture interact. This 145m2, 4.5m-high open-span apartment offered scope to exploit these concerns and to introduce dramatic geometry into the plan. The spaces to be provided were a bedroom, study and open living area suited to the tenant's lifestyle.
A tight, curving entrance lobby leads to the point of maximum impact - on the diagonal line formed by the hypotenuse of the core which contains kitchen at floor level, study and shower/wc above. This triangular form suggests an exaggerated perspective slicing through the main living space in pursuit of a vanishing point in the corner at the back of the room; in fact, the wall stops short of the corner to make space for the stairs up to the mezzanine floor. To the left of the entrance lobby, this diagonal wall continues, on plan, past the angled edge of a vast floor- to-ceiling sliding panel which can be pulled forward from within a central storage wall to close off the bedroom. A cantilevered limestone bench (slotted to receive the door in its closed position) runs the length of the front wall and appears to continue in the reflection produced by a mirrored wall at the far end of the bedroom. An industrial fin radiator has been mounted beneath the bench.
Behind the bed, a freestanding wall screens the bathroom and shower. Sealed cement-rendered walls and recessed illuminated niches for towels and taps, etc, emphasise the monumental, cavernous quality of these unexpected spaces.
In the living area, the staircase to the study is incorporated at the apex of the mezzanine core where it splays as it rises to fill the triangular form; dark carpeting minimises the visual effect of the steps.
The kitchen, below the study, is layered vertically from back to front, first by a back-lit, sandblasted glass screen in front of the working spaces, and then by a motorised blind which can be lowered to close off the area completely and create the illusion that the mezzanine core is a geometric plane, hovering in front of the back wall. Light - from concealed fittings - washes across the surfaces or reflects off projecting forms, revealing sculptural depths and subtlety of detail which may escape attention in the flatter, unselective light of day.
Seth Stein Architects: Christine Milne, David Russell, Seth Stein
SUBCONTRACTORS AND SUPPLIERS
stone bench Stone Productions, radiator Turnbull & Scott, kitchen/fittings Vola, Allgood, lightfittings Erco, Philips, oak floor Reeve Flooring, blinds Hallmark Blinds, sanitaryware West One Bathrooms, towel rails Imperial, glass screen Lee Green Glazing, decorating White & Carrington