After living in this 1960s single-bed apartment perched on the Clovelly cliff tops for a few years, architect James Garvan decided to take matters into his own hands. ‘We loved its intense connection to the ocean and landscape, but the internal configuration drove us mad’ he says! James and his partner had already embarked upon some major life milestones in their almost-dream home – they were married in the front yard – but just before the arrival of their first baby, James and his wife gave their seaside gem a complete overhaul, to ensure many more memories to come.
‘Being your own client is HARD’, admits James. ‘Suddenly, all your decisiveness goes out of the window and a simple exercise like choosing a loo-roll holder becomes agonising!’ Despite the challenges (the loo holder being the least of concerns, considering this extensive modification was made to a first-floor unit in a four-storey building!) James has created a serene space to nourish his growing family.
The inspiration and references for this project were born out of its cliff-top context, and the way that the couple like to live; ‘connected to the landscape, socially active and sometimes reclusive.’ In order to completely reconfigure the floorplan, ten of eleven load-bearing walls were removed and replaced with expressed steel beams. These beams are left exposed, a nod to the remnants of the previous floor plan.
A functional joinery wall with a series of ‘secret’ pivoting panels divides the private spaces from the public spaces, and anchors the kitchen/dining/living spaces against the ocean view backdrop. While the bedrooms and bathrooms are immediately adjacent to the living spaces, these panels cleverly conceal any clues of what lies behind – a genius solution for clear zone delineation on a small footprint!
The original 1965 floorplan was a classic reflection of its era – the kitchen was at the back of the house, rooms were small and compartmentalised, and access to the ocean views was limited (can you imagine NOT making the most of these views!?). The new floorplan prioritises the living spaces and creates a strong connection to those spectacular vistas, as well as ample access to natural light.
Limited floorspace in the 62sqm apartment (and the fact that existing windows could not be modified) required some seriously efficient ideas to maximise every inch of space. James incorporated joinery units throughout the home, with every unit either displaying objects or concealing them. An additional layer of personality is brought to the project via the various object displays throughout the home. The central joinery display that nestles between the steel beams overhead not only provides an opportunity to showcase treasured pieces, but softly divides the dining and lounge spaces, without losing connectivity between them.
‘This project was an opportunity to strut my stuff, to create something that embodied my design principles and ambitions,’ tells James. ‘But ultimately, I just wanted a home that intuitively felt good’. And what a triumphant result!