|Alexander & CO.
Designed as a living space as much as a work place, the new headquarters of Sydney-based architectural practice Alexander & Co. can best be described as an architectural residential showcase. Located in Bondi Junction, an eastern Sydney suburb, next to the family home of the practice’s Principal Jeremy Bull and partner and Marketing Director Tess Glasson, Alexander House exemplifies Alexander &CO.’s design philosophy. Underpinned by a sense of openness and lightness, the premises combine a minimalist aesthetic of understated elegance and effortless sophistication with a sculptural sensibility of hand-craftsmanship courtesy of natural materials and an abundance of bespoke pieces crafted in collaboration with local artisans. A prototype for exploring sustainability, carbon sequestration and environmental innovation, the project also explores new ways of living and working with an aim of challenging preconceptions about home, family and work, while nurturing creativity, experimentation and collaboration.
The practice is already well known for immaculately renovating period houses lending them a sense of the contemporary whilst highlighting their architectural heritage, so it’s no surprise that the transformation of a Victorian, two-storey, semi-detached terrace house into their new workplace is a knockout. Having to contend with a small footprint, the team had to get creative in order to accommodate the various programmatic requirements of a modern, creativity-driven workplace, which included spaces for collaboration and meetings, private rooms and social areas. The result is a sequence of indoor and outdoor spaces which vary in material, scale, lighting and volume which manage to harmoniously tie together comprising a flexible working environment for the team as well as a residential showcase that clients can physically experience.
Undoubtedly the heart of Alexander House beats in the open plan living area on the ground floor, which includes a laid-back lounge, kitchen and banquette seating for coffee and lunch breaks. Centred on a double-height volume, the space is bright and airy, courtesy of several windows and large folding patio doors that lead onto a sunny terrace. A mezzanine level features an off-form concrete counter overlooking the kitchen that offers a quiet place to work. On the same level, a library and meeting room offer more privacy, while the main open-plan work space is located on the basement level, which contrary to expectation, is awash in natural light thanks to floor-to-ceiling folding patio doors that open up to a lush backyard. Finally, on the upper level a second meeting room can be found along with spacious sleeping quarters that provide accommodation for interstate team members as well as the community. And if you’re still not convinced that Alexander House is not your typical workplace, on-site wellness amenities include a steam room, outdoor shower, ice bath and pool.
An elemental material palette of concrete, polished plaster, steel, brass and stone imbues the interiors with a sculptural sensibility, while the use of reclaimed timbers and rammed earth bricks made from waste materials enhance the sense of hand-craftsmanship while highlighting the beauty of imperfection. The same is true of the numerous larger and smaller bespoke elements that were realized in collaboration with local craftspeople and suppliers. Highlights include a series of outdoor furniture in custom pink oxides made from recycled building waste using a rammed earth technique in cooperation with RE. Studio Collective, a custom pink concrete kitchen counter by Concrete Bespoke weighing half a tonne, a 6-metre-long walnut banquette in the kitchen which seats all 23 of the studio’s team by furniture maker Athol Wright of CDF Studio, who also worked on the walnut floor-to-ceiling bookshelf in the library, and a 7-metre-long light pendant suspended from the skylight above the staircase, which was made in collaboration with Shaun Dudley from The Lighting Guild.
From ceramic tableware made from recycled porcelain, to leather curtain inspired by Jeremy Bull and Tess Glasson’s trip to Peter Zumthor’s Vals Therme, the variety of custom-designed pieces are part of Alexander &CO.’s long-running exploration of materials and technologies, including the use of reclaimed and recycled materials whist embodying the studio’s mission to champion the local design community. In the same spirit, a curated art collection promotes a range of Australian artists, with plans for a moving gallery concept and an artist-in-residence program under discussion. Vintage pieces and family heirlooms complete Alexander House’s eclectic interior design further brandishing the project’s credentials as a true residential showcase experience.