Woolloomooloo Office and Apartment

Location: North Building of the Woolloomooloo Wharf. Sydney.

Due to a major computer meltdown, I no longer have my own photographs of this project. With the kind permition of Vogue Magazine, I have reproduced the images they took of this apartment.

Interesting Fact: You might recognise some of the paintings and furniture in this series of photos from another project: Jones Bay Wharf. Not so long after this project was completed, John Laws (the great Australian radio voice) made an offer for it that my client found hard to refuse. We took the money (and the furniture) and ran!

TOP: Formal Sitting Room Joinery.
All photos by Johny Valiant.
Producer: Judith Cook.
Story: Alexander Michael.
The East Terrace.
TOP: overlooking the naval base. LEFT: the highly buffed “surf” conference table is finished in metallic automotive paint. Weighing in at 300 kilos, it had to be craned into the building.

ocean lining

THE BRIEF WAS SIMPLE, "make it modern, make it fit". I guess what that meant was something on the harbour should look as if it belongs there. The design direction was obvious: "No curtains, no obstructions to the view", and that was final! Thankfully the architects of this new structure at the end of the wharf had endowed it with deep terraces and external sliding sun-control louvers. This was due partly to the industrial maritime character of the building and the heritage authorities.

By forcing the kitchens, bathrooms and store rooms into the core of the building, I could then expose the living and bedroom spaces to that incredible view of the harbour, parks, and the naval dockyards. And just to ensure the view was not lost on anyone, the spaces were designed with massive pivoting doors and walls. This allowed total flexibility, that wonderful freedom to change spaces around, and the element of surprise.

Materials and finishes were chosen to bounce light everywhere. Without resorting to mirrors, many of the surfaces were polished to a mirror finish, or glazed to both reflect and force the light deeper into the heart of the apartment.

Colours, furniture and accessories presented an interesting problem; how do you pay sufficient homage to such an outlook without completely subjugating somebody's personal living space? My answer was to create a totally homogenous interior that didn't conflict with the extraordinary colour and light from the outside. I designed most of the furniture myself, the rest I left to the like of Mies van der Rohe and Corbusier. In today's Sydney, space is such a luxury, that I was compelled to express it by ensuring furniture could easily be stacked, folded and rolled away if not in use. The dining table for example seats more than twenty people, but it can be folded into half its width and rolled back to the wall to be used as a console, freeing up the space until the next big diner party. The chairs by that French genius Philippe Starck are elegant and stackable .... There's something really pathetic about an empty dining room waiting for guests.


Ante Room
Breakfast Room
West Terrace
The West Terrace.
LEFT: all furniture designed by ALEXANDER MICHAEL.

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