Smart Design Studio - Sydney Architects

Bourke 632

632 Bourke was transformed from a warren of boarding house rooms to a contemporary office and living space. Formerly two adjoining terraces with rear stables, the building occupies a prominent corner position in Surry Hills; its length faces due north and provides an important streetscape to the shared pedestrian roadway, Ridge Street. 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 louvres 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.


This 110 m2 private apartment sits atop Smart Design Studio’s terrace conversion complex in Surry Hills. The building’s glass louvred sleeve envelops the original façade, creating a light-filled rooftop eyrie. Inside, the metal roof and I-beam structure evokes classic Case Study homes in Los Angeles’ Pacific Palissades.

The living and sleeping spaces are separated by an island ‘Pod’ which conceals the service areas, a narrow exterior planter and an interior bookshelves 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. Deciduous street planting in Bourke Street softens the western glare. 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 louvres; the open plan layout assists good east-west cross ventilation.

The master bedroom features a private balcony with full height fold-back doors the length of the western wall to extend the bedroom, which is sheltered by mature plane trees. A light-filled, timeless bathroom makes good use of glass.



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 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.



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