Gone are the remnants of the former Foy & Gibson department store in Melbourne’s Collingwood. Instead, Rob Kennon Architects have created a sophisticated dwelling in its place, breathing new life into the former warehouse shell. The apartment unfolds with a series of carefully orchestrated moments floating within a fluid, open-plan scheme. They allow inhabitants to balance shared experiences with moments of pause and refuge, creating a home that perfectly reflects the client’s way of life.
The original building, designed by McBride Charles Ryan, left behind much of its unique character. This personality has been wholeheartedly embraced and celebrated within the new design – notably an 8-metre high, multi-faceted piece dubbed ‘The Shard’. Architects planned around such elements, ensuring the existing voice of the project became interwoven into the apartment. The sculptural body of the shard remains one of the strongest voices within the design as it winds its way throughout the three-storey interior. One side of its face becomes dipped in gold, clad in aged brass, while the other one is covered with Venetian hard plaster. The tonal depth of this complex geometry brings visual interest to every living space.
The design becomes the tangible embodiment of occupants’ personality. The floor plan features an open space for friends to gather, cook and eat together. At the same time, it’s also dotted with small nooks, gardens, and secluded reading spots which create moments of quiet pause.
The space is flexible and inherently public – the bathrooms are the only rooms with doors! Rob Kennon Architects trade strict spatial division for a sense of unrestrained freedom. Soft curtains become operable partitions, their draped bodies marking the threshold between the guest bedroom and the living area. The giant volume of the former warehouse houses a scattering of functional living requirements. A laundry, washbasin, and desk area all integrated throughout the home in a series of spatial pockets, each unveiling a sense of surprise.
There is a somewhat unconventional allocation of space, largely informed by the intricacies of working within a factory shell.
The kitchen becomes sandwiched between the three levels of the existing warehouse, reimaging the idea of a kitchen as the heart of the home – the high-rise answer to a centrally placed cooking zone. The outdoor terrace becomes an extension of the dining area, bringing light and greenery deep into the centre of the interior. The boundary of the two spaces becomes blurred, as elegant black framed doors slide open, inviting conversations and shared meals to spill onto the bench seat outside.