Bourke Street Contemporary Office & Living Space


632 Bourke was transformed from a warren of boarding house rooms to a contemporary office and living space, now home to Smart Design Studio. Formerly two adjoining terraces with rear stables, the building occupies a prominent corner position in Surry Hills. Conceived as a contemporary steel and glass insertion within an existing masonry shell, it consists of two levels of studios and a rooftop apartment.

The existing shell of the building has been retained, large vertical apertures cut through to reveal a layer of glass Breezway Louvre Windows framed by deep stainless steel casements. A rigorous grid informed the design approach for the whole building – from the steel structure to tiling set-out, workspaces and joinery and lighting – establishing coherency throughout the building.

The living and sleeping spaces are separated by an island ‘Pod’ which conceals the service areas, a narrow exterior planter and an interior bookshelf visually linking the two zones. Extensive glazing is sheltered in summer by large overhangs to the north, with screening to the east provided through fixed aluminium battens. Additional solar control is provided through motorised internal blinds, and the bathrooms are lit from skylights above. Natural ventilation can be tempered by the north-facing operable Breezway Louvres; the open plan layout assists good east-west cross ventilation.

The building is an honest layering of old and new as expressed by the raw treatment of the exterior façade through to the smooth, modern interior. The rooftop addition connects the double-height banks of glass Breezway Louvres with an articulated aluminium roof folding down as a screen to the back of the building. The end result successfully incorporates flexible and functional office interiors and a two-bedroom rooftop apartment within a rigorously controlled contemporary architecture of old and new.

Architect: Smart Design Studio
Tel: 02 8332 4333

Photographer: Anson Smart
Tel: 0417 249 455