Principal Jeremy Bull and marketing director Tess Glasson, both of Alexander &CO, were always interested in purchasing the house next door to their Bondi Junction property, should it ever come up for sale. When it finally did 10 years later, they saw a rare opportunity to buy the property and convert this into a workspace of sorts.
‘We were looking for commercial properties, and we thought we don’t know how this will work, but let’s buy it and build a house “thing” that we can use to show clients through, and provide a working from home HQ/showpiece,’ says Jeremy.
That was the initial plan, but with Covid normalising more unorthodox working arrangements, Tess and Jeremy decided to make this their team’s permanent business headquarters.
‘It’s a house, it’s a residential showcase, and a working from home HQ. Broadly our workforce moves in and out, works from home, and comes in as they need to,’ explains Jeremy.
The space is also used for industry events, and occasionally for entertaining out of hours by Jeremy, Tess, and their four children who spill over from their house next door!
Works commenced on Alexander House in February 2020, which saw the previous house on site replaced with a new four-storey interior behind the original facade.
The floor plan now contains an open-plan area with banquette seating to accommodate the practice’s team of 24; a voluminous basement with workstations and materials; breakout spaces for meetings and quiet work; and three bathrooms. There’s also additional ‘wellness’ amenities, such as a steam room, outdoor shower, ice bath and pool.
As principal architect of the project, Jeremy’s vision was for a ‘safe space for reflection, experimentation and to nurture the creative spirit.’ This concept is reflected in the interiors, which incorporate a number of prototypes, reimagined works from previous projects, bespoke pieces created in collaborations with local craftspeople; and never-before-seen material applications.
A small sample of these include a series of outdoor furniture made in conjunction with Re. Studio Collective using recycled building waste from the original building and a rammed earth technique; the first ever use of Lutyens Bricks from Natural Brick Co; custom furniture by Hugh McCarthy and Athol Wright of CDF Studio; and lighting pendants made in collaboration with Shaun Dudley of The Lighting Guild, including a seven metre long pendant that connects all four levels.
‘The house is sort of a random menagerie of things we’ve always wanted to own for ourselves,’ says Jeremy.
Among the various influences referenced throughout are old chapels and churches, with their tonal palettes, double-height volumes, and limestone and sandstone walls that appear to erode away over time. The monolithic pink concrete table by Concrete Bespoke (which weighs 500kg and was craned in to the space) is also similar in form to an altar.
‘Although falling under one story or narrative, each of the rooms is quite specifically different in terms of techniques, materials and details,’ Jeremy says.
Sustainability was another key consideration, resulting in two underground tanks with a total water storage of 22,000 litres; a solar system that generates up to 45kWh of power daily; a Tesla Powerwall battery; and two underground Subpod worm farms processing up to 30 litres of food waste weekly.
Overall, the biggest ambition of this project lies in its deliberate ambiguity. Not simply a gorgeous project, Alexander House is an architectural showcase – a purpose-built live-work set up aiming to challenge preconceptions of home, family, and work.