Austin is an exemplar of restorative architecture comprising of innovative structural design and refined interiors by Smart Design Studio

Project Credits:
Project Name: Austin
Location: Sydney Australia
Project Team: William Smart, Glenn O’Loughlin, Kristin Lynam, Zig Peshos, Richard Storey, Troy Melville
Project Duration: 2007 – 2013
Structural Engineers: Benvenuti Consulting Structural Engineers
Planner: MJB Urban Planning
Heritage: City Plan Heritage

Based in Sydney, Australia, the Smart Design Studio is a firm that is influenced heavily by ‘Modernism’, with the belief that every form has a function than ‘form follows function’. The thirty-five plus team works with rigour, adding significance to each of their projects by adding hidden meaning and developing surface texture, thus augmenting each design with poetry. While crafting unique solutions that mirror their clients’ visions, the studio utilizes the site characters of each of the projects, shaping the personalities of the buildings and their interiors with meticulously articulated structural and interior details. The studio believes in employing design innovation in order to create ecologically sensitive structures that fulfil their responsibility towards the environment that they are built in.

Situated in the inner-city area of Surry Hills, Austin is a refurbishment project that involves the adaptive reuse of a rundown warehouse into a new mixed development building. With its redevelopment, the building has been given a new breath of life with its revamped interiors along with an extended ground level commercial space, two levels of posh residential apartments and a lower ground floor car park. The area surrounding the site is distinguished by warehouses and Victorian terrace houses that have housed artist’s studios, galleries and creative workspaces in the recent years.

The existing openings of the concrete beams and column façade have been fitted with the new, eloquent rectangular openings, boasting of handsome proportions. Spanning over two levels and adding a grand scale to the building, these hand-painted windows are double storied. On the first glance, they seem to be bold and humble, but a closer look reveals a window within a window. The windows assert a recessed bi-folding on the upper part, where two apartments are located. The flush double hung on the lower part opens up the commercial spaces on to the street and the public arena.


These seven small windows are located at different junctions in relation to the grid of the larger windows. Aptly described as an ‘eclipse’, it was perceived as an elusive, art-based façade, which would be noticed only through close inspection. To complement the bohemian nature of Surry Hills and the Hot Chile render, the building is done in a rust red colour palette which is similar to its original shades.3


Following a simplistic concept, the apartments are charming and filled with natural light. The wedge shape of the building makes each apartment different, albeit enjoying a similar material palette. The interiors are mainly white with flawless details, coupled with grey floors and accentuated with full-gloss rust joinery. These factors form the core of the apartments and present them as hubs to include kitchens, laundries, studies and plenty of storage space.




Boasting of picturesque views of the Surry Hills, the penthouse apartment is a very unique interior space with large rooms, star void, saw-tooth roof and a generous cantilever. The penthouse consists of a plentiful balcony that runs along the front and side of the building. The roof overhang on the balcony provides capable protection from the harsher weather elements while creating lively outdoor spaces.



The design adopts the apartment planning ideologies of Smart Design Studio of concealing the utilitarian elements and minimizing the dependence on doors. Along with this, importance is given to circulation and flow, giving birth to elegant apartments that exude an expression of easy living.





Designed as a split floor level, the basement commercial space enjoys an abundance of sunlight; this level was initially conceived as a restaurant space however, it is now utilized as a successful retail store. The architecture of the building id given prominence through the forms and details crafted within this space. The character of the building – a chunky warehouse – is reinforced by the exposed concrete beams and slabs, contrasted by innovated forms and details and an atypical combination of materials.




The original name of the company building, Brackenbury and Austin, has been retained. Formerly a warehouse for a timber yard and a manufacture of Lathes, the business stopped its production of equipment in the late 1950s. The structure had a very different form then, till its recent revitalization.

The building has been designed with an ESD focus and features include:
 All spaces naturally ventilated using either a light well or roof skylights
 Performance glass, concealed spandrels and external roller blinds.
 Rain water collection and reuse for flushing toilets and watering plants.
 Energy and water efficient fixtures and solar hot water to all the apartments, and
 Through maximizing the reuse of the existing building.





sdteamSmart Design Studio (SDS)

-Tanvi Naik, Volume Zero.

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