SJB’s work on The Riley was deeply focussed on retaining the charm of an original and iconic corner-block building in Darlinghurst. Enlisted to convert a 230-square-metre mechanic’s workshop into four residential terraces, the architecture-and-interiors firm set out to show ‘a real admiration of the original building,’ in the words of Jonathan Richards, director of SJB.
They undertook substantial internal restructuring, as the existing two-storey space was a hodge-podge of internal ramps and split levels used by the former tenant, a mechanic. The warehouse was divided into four separate dwellings each with entry via the street. New rooftop pavilions comprising the master bedroom and terrace were created. ‘We had a height restriction that meant any change could not exceed the existing roof level – but we still had sufficient space to create a new third level for the master bedroom and roof terraces,’ explains Jonathan, of their new addition characterised by black steel framing and black zinc sheet roofing.
An additional challenge for SJB was the fact that although the front of the warehouse receives wonderful light through large street-facing windows, the back of the building is devoid of natural light due to neighbouring structures. A solution came in the form of an internal light well utilising the full height of the building, giving every residence a distinctive vertical garden, and access to daylight on at least two sides. ‘It enables cross-flow ventilation, daylight and an unusual experience of having garden atriums in the warehouse,’ details Jonathon. ‘What had been the biggest challenge became a signature part of every space!’
Additionally, timber windows were replaced with steel framed hopper windows, the brick façade was restored, and a new opening was made, employing striking diagonal-patterned bricks in a clever contrast.
‘Having a rooftop aspect looking into the trees of Riley Street with a very urban streetscape is a terrific experience,’ reflects Jonathon, a local of the area. ‘I have admired this warehouse for a long time. Now, having had the opportunity to create a new life for it with four special residences, has been very satisfying.’