Indooroopilly House, Owen ArchitectureWords by Sandra Tan | Photography by Toby Scott
Developed by Brisbane-based Owen Architecture in collaboration with Lineburg Wang, Indooroopilly House is designed in sync with its surroundings.
Inside, a strategy of gradual split-levels creates a sequence of platforms emulating the sloping site, which falls away toward Brisbane River. This internal topography is defined by angular custom joinery and a robust material palette of concrete and marble, accented by timber. The effect is confidently minimal, with a bold weight.
“We believe not every finish should be ‘beautiful’,” says architect Paul Owen. “Spaces should feel they have a permanence to them.”
Entering through a walk-in robe in the main bedroom, the linear ensuite also employs a‘micro’ split level. To the left, a discreet shower drain runoff. To the right, the bathroom floor steps down to form a tiled marble tub, entirely open to the bedroom and densely treed view beyond. This unexpected spatial detail of a raised, skylit masonry bath evokes the feeling of a cave, or eroded cliffside opening.
“There’s a particular type of condition we’re trying to create, of being enclosed but also having an outlook,” explains Paul. “It’s the opposite of open plan, and more about editing or curating the space that you’re in.”Owen Architecture
RSB House Bathroom, Davidov ArchitectsWords by Holly Cunneen | Photography by Jack Lovell
Longevity was core to the brief Davidov Architects received from their clients for the wet rooms of RSB House. A couple with young children, they also wanted a return to the family bathroom. “This room is intended to be used by all the children for the time being until they are old enough to graduate to their ensuites,” says architect Robert Davidov.
The highly functional design of the bathroom lends itself an almost civic feel, with an entirely intentional feeling of robustness and utilitarianism. Examples include the shower zone’s tiled niche – “to house a household’s supply of soap and shampoo” – and the extended hob at the end of the bathtub for parents to sit while bathing children; for children drying while their siblings finish up; or simply to sit and keep company.
Orange ceramic square tiles extend from the floors to the wall accompanied by venetian blinds and wall-mounted lights. Through the large north-west-facing window light streams in. Cleverly, the partition walls are tall enough to offer privacy while allowing light to traverse the demarcated zones. Together, these design cues delight the younger occupants while simultaneously offering a subtle nod to the building’s 1970s origins.
This sensitive homage plays out through the rest of the renovation, ensuring the bathroom is connected to the house as the young family moves through the complementary spaces.
Tiled Bathroom, Katie Lockhart Studio
Words by Vicki Wilson | Photography by Neeve Woodward
A bathroom space should evoke a sense of tranquillity and calm. This is true at least from the perspective of New Zealand-based interior designer Katie Lockhart. “I like to be able to relax in a bathroom,” says Katie, sharing an inclination with which most can surely relate. “Good natural light and a simple palette of materials contribute to this overall feel.”
Channelling a mid-century affinity with the mosaic tiles and the material simplicity of Japanese washrooms, Tiled Bathroom by Katie Lockhart Studio offers a tranquil place of respite for the bustling family residence that revolves around it.
At the crux of this bathroom design is the tile that covers almost every surface. “Once we had decided on using this particular tile by Heath Ceramics,” – the soothing hue of which is Soapstone – “the challenge was in planning the tile placements to make use of the bullnose edge tiles,” says Katie.
The painstaking intricacies of planning have evidently paid off, with the end result being a bathroom space permeated by a formidable sense of instant zen.Katie Lockhart Studio
Venus House, Ming ArchitectsWords by Luo Jingmei | Photography by Studio Periphery
With just frontal and rear faces, terrace houses are notorious for their dearth of natural illumination. But not this abode by MingArchitects. The Singaporean studio carved an atrium in the plan’s centre, bestowing interiors with not just good light but a deeper connection with the weather’s natural rhythms. The house is designed for a multi-generational family and hence considers a balance of private and common spaces. The master bedroom rules the roost, with the bolde nsuite privy to this light and sky view that caps the atrium through ample glazing.
The freestanding bathtub’s curves are put on display through this glass wall like a sculpture. The tranquil vista of pale blue skies and shifting clouds above is a boon when one is soaking away the day’s stresses. When the privacy blinds are drawn up, the bathroom converses with the lofty bedroom across the atrium and the through views enhances the house’s porosity.
Light is a dominant concept, with the alabaster, marble-inspired homogenous floor and wall tiles selected to bounce light off their surfaces. Behind the bathtub, a dark granite counter and matching joinery contrasts in tone. Yet, designed as an elevated volume, this element evokes a sense of lightness. Custom-designed teak timber and spray painted steel plate lights border the mirrors, their unfussiness accentuating the bathroom’s elegance. Tucked behind opaque walls, the shower and toilet cubicles give added privacy and visual neatness.Ming Architects
Imperfect Residence Bathroom, NC Design & ArchitectureWords by Tamsin Bradshaw | Photography by Harold De Puymorin
At Imperfect Residence, the bathroom sits like a beacon of light at the end of a dark corridor. It’s the pinnacle in a “series of meditative moments,” says Nelson Chow, founder and principal of Hong Kong-based design firm NC Design & Architecture (NCDA), the design firm behind this home – and it brings a new level of meaning to the idea of the bathroom as sanctuary.
Here, bathing and grooming are a reverential experience; no wonder NCDA called this space ‘the Altar.’ Setting the tone is a round of marble, inlaid on the floor in front of the basin. “When you wash your hands here there’s a sense of ritual and purification. You’re preparing yourself to do certain things,” says Nelson.
The same veined, green marble finds its way onto the basin’s splashback and the column separating the bathing space from the basin area, creating balance without the need for perfect symmetry. Other materials also repeat across floors, walls, ceilings and other surfaces: plaster, Caesarstone that resembles concrete and oxidised metal.
“We used the same materials in different ways to create a variety of layers and depths,” says Nelson. “By keeping our colour palette really simple, you get to see how the light changes the textures of the materials, and the environment.”
This is a space that revels in the integrity of materials, in their imperfections, and in the harmony that comes from asymmetry and contrast. It’s wabi-sabi made modern, and the result is sculptural and serene.NC Design & Architecture We think you might also like these carefully curated Australian bathroom designsabc
For more than ten years the residents of Clovelly House lived in this Federation bungalow situated on a headland offering views down to Clovelly Beach and the uninterrupted blue beyond. The couple first bought the residence, adorned by an 80s-era second storey addition, in the knowledge that some things would need to change. However, with two young children priorities were elsewhere. It wasn’t until more recently that they engaged Smart Design Studio to bring the house into the modern era.
Neither husband nor wife knew especially where to look to find an architect, but it was the latter who recalled passing a fascinating corner building in Surry Hills every day on her way to work. She admired how respectfully old and new had been integrated. This was [at the time] the home and studio of William Smart, director of Smart Design Studio. They had found their architect.
The brief was simple, in line with the clients’ tastes. They wanted the common spaces of their home to be open and warm; to encourage natural light and ventilation through the house; to make the most of a modest, but by no means small site; and most importantly, to live in a house that would not date. Sustainability was paramount in the way that materials, finishes and furniture should be location and use appropriate, and anything that could be restored and retained would be. “Preserve what you can, change what you have to,” recalls William.
In the early stages of the project, time was spent considering which step was the best foot forward. The original architecture was lost behind a tall wall at the front and dominating addition at the back. The bungalow wasn’t protected by council or heritage restrictions, so a knock down/rebuild was entirely possible, but not completely necessary. And although the addition had its faults, the clients liked the extra floor space it offered and did not want to give that up. Likewise, the tall brick fence at the front offered rare privacy to the front yard.
It was agreed that the original structure would remain but the rear addition would be rebuilt and reconfigured. And although the façade at the front wasn’t initially part oft he brief, William suggested that for visual consistency “it would be very nice to do that as well”. The clients agreed. One of the biggest considerations then became how to reconcile the new work with the existing bungalow and surrounding streetscape without one element dominating all others.
Shadowclad was used on the front and rear façades, painted white with Dulux Weathershield. Both materials are purpose designed for a seaside location. “We felt that really gave it the coastal feeling. The idea was a crisp modern house sitting in a green landscape,” says William. And although solar panels weren’t possible at the time of the project, the roof has been designed with the capacity to take them in future.
The positioning of the entry – along the length of the site via a side passage that extends all the way to the rear garden – was reviewed but ultimately retained. “We were able to split the house in that way and a key move was to [keep] the entrance halfway down,” says William. The interiors of the extension have the distinct hallmarks of modernity – minimal, clean, white – and yet they exist in harmony with elements of the original building that have been retained: the floorboards, stained-glass features, and some hardware and furniture the clients wanted to keep.
The natural progression through the residence is to turn right down the hallway past a walled in living room and staircase up to the three bedrooms (including a main bedroom). This path leads to the new extension comprising an open kitchen, dining room and seamless transition to an exterior deck and garden below. Open yet subtly segmented, the common living area allows the family to engage in different activities yet remain together; and enjoy the south-facing rear with water views.
The all-white kitchen is carried through by white Thonet dining chairs surrounding a timber dining table (a piece of furniture the clients chose to hold on to), plain white vitrified tiles, and a white Kartell exterior dining setting. The joinery is simple but effective – Corian surfaces and polyurethane joinery, all in crisp white and without handles or pulls – which can be quick to date. “We were looking to create something quite disciplined in the space. This is my love really, inexpensive materials detailed in a really crisp way,” says William.
Interestingly, the island bench has no surrounding stools. The residents, who “like a bench to be a bench and a table to be a table” have instead opted for storage on both sides. The inside length caters to food preparation while the outer holds pieces that service the table such as placemats, napkins, platters, vases and so on. The sink and stovetop are located on the bench lining the west wall.
Upstairs in the private domain the kids’ bedrooms sit side-by-side on the north wall, exact duplicates of each other, designed to be ageless and gender neutral. The distinctive peaks from the street view let northern sun into their bedrooms and offer beautiful sightlines to the street. “In my view, that’s a better use of north than a master bedroom,” says William, “because the kids are more likely to be playing in their rooms during the day.” This is no skin off the clients’ teeth, who, from their main bedroom and small balcony, enjoy prized, unobstructed views of Clovelly Beach.
Returning downstairs, and alternatively turning left upon entry towards the front of the house one finds the kids’ living room and study (or guest room as needed). Here, children playing and parents working are offered privacy and minimal disturbance as family and guests enter or exit. There was little architectural intervention in these rooms from the original bungalow, a simple case of aligning them with the new extension without changing what didn’t need to be changed.
“I feel as though the big success of the project is the transformation,” says William. Neither residents nor architect feel like it could have been better as knock down/rebuild.“We gave the house a new contemporary form, but wanted it to express itself as one language throughout,” he elaborates. A poetic comment that reminds me of the residents’ first impressions of the Smart studio, housed in a building that – now like their own – artfully integrates old and new.Smart Design Studio smartdesignstudio.com Photography by Katherine Lu We think you might also like Hole in the Roof House by Neeson Murcutt
Thomas Coward has worked with some of the coolest, funkiest, and most forward thinking bathroom brands out there, and as creative director of a fair few them – Artedomus, United Products and New Volumes – one could begin to wonder if he is the common thread.
Originally from Cornwall in the United Kingdom, Thomas studied furniture design at Ravensbourne College in London – now famous for Foreign Office Architects’ tile covered campus completed in 2010. It was during his time at Ravensbourne that he developed an interest in bathroom products – an interest that has marked his career to date.
In 2004 he came to Australia. “I moved to Melbourne and started working with Joseph Licciardi, who was hugely influential on my way of thinking,” says Thomas.
Many of the most notable designs from Omvivo (founded by Joseph as a joint venture with Schiavello) can be linked to Thomas. In 2009, he designed the Latis Basin carved from natural stone. That was soon followed by Motif in 2011, another solid surface basin featuring etched glass.
“Our relationships with products can be complex so I try and consider those feelings as well tackling the inert functional aspects.”
Thomas then began working with a number of well-known brands, leaders in the bathroom space. He has designed numerous basins for Artedomus and the interiors for their showrooms in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and most recently, Il Bosco in Brisbane. In 2017 New Volumes was launched as a joint venture between Thomas and Artedomus. Collection 01 is a series of 12 pieces from eight local designers made from Elba, a dolomite-based raw material at least 250 million years old. “New Volumes has been a lifelong idea come to fruition. [It] is a brand working with Australian designers to produce collections from singular materials,” he says. That same year his basin designs for United Products, Saturn and Ledge, were released followed by Lunar in 2018.
Although his interest in designing for the bathroom hasn’t waned over the years, his approach has certainly changed. If you sat Motif next to Lunar, it’s quite apparent. Thomas says his first designs were very much informed by wanting to make a statement. Now he is increasingly interested in using design to answer questions of a physical or emotional nature: “Our relationships with products can be complex so I try and consider those feelings as well tackling the inert functional aspects,” he says.
Function, while imperative, is also“pretty simple”. Conceptually, his work in the bathroom is more concerned with aiding the rituals of bathing and acknowledging the sanctity, privacy and vulnerability of the bathroom. “Materials and form should be sensitive to the naked body,” he adds.
Furthermore, Thomas is intent on understanding the impact of his designs on the environment and holds some pretty radical – albeit convincing – ideas about the future for makers and consumers. “Designers will become stewards for the products they create and manufacture,” he says. “We can’t absolve ourselves of the responsibility of a product once it has been sold.” As the reality of what happens to products and materials when they are discarded creeps increasingly into a mainstream consciousness, the responsibility is equally with designers, manufacturers and suppliers to educate their customers on the impact of their disposal decisions.
“Perhaps we will start leasing furniture, and never owning anything,” muses Thomas. “Or the opposite, and your ownership does not end once you’ve finished with it. We make it too easy to discard materials.”
His personal future involves more of the same, creating for a space he loves to be in himself. “I’m really into baths. And now phones are waterproof, I take even longer ones,” he jokes. Suffice it to say you can expect his world and world views to continue to be a large part of the local design scene.
Thomas Coward thomascoward.com
Photography by Marnie Hawson