Ask an architect, 'what is the most difficult thing to achieve in a project?' Their answer will likely be, simplicity. With so many competing needs in a home - heating, cooling, cooking, bathing, lounging, sleeping, privacy, natural light... the list goes on - fitting everything in and still achieving a sense of balanced harmony becomes incredibly difficult. These challenges are amplified for apartment living where floorspace is limited. But walking into Darling Point Apartment by architect Renjie Teoh you immediately feel a sense of calm thanks to clever storage solutions, generous natural light and warm, rich materials arranged with a sense of balanced harmony. In a word, simplicity.
The project is a renovation of a two-bedroom apartment in a 1960s-era building in Darling Point, Sydney. Under the previous owners the apartment had been partially renovated in the 1980s which had opened up the floor plan and relocated the kitchen but retained most of the original 1960s fixtures and finishes. While many would consider this a godsend, unfortunately the quality of those original features wasn't there and was out of step with the apartment building.
The architect removed an additional wall to combine the kitchen and living spaces and relocated lighting, electrical and plumbing services behind false walls and a new false ceiling. The addition of new joinery creates a highly usable, yet minimal space which feels like a fusion of Japanese minimalism and mid-Century modern (appropriate for the era of the apartment).
Cleverly, the architect also gained permission to add a fixed glass window to the balcony wall to catch views of Sydney harbour and replaced windows to the balcony with full height bi-fold doors to create a seamless indoor-outdoor connection which physically enlarges the space.
By removing all of the existing bathroom and reconfiguring it, Renjie has transformed what was a cramped bathroom into a sophisticated modern space. Sacrificing the rarely-used bath in favour of a large shower immediately made the space feel larger. A wall of integrated cabinets on the opposite side of the bathroom conceal all the plumbing as well as providing plenty of storage.
"I feel that the bathroom is very special, how the plumbing service plenum wall and wall cabinets above, together with the basin and toilet suite, become a single, clean feature wall with the delightful secret of hidden storage. An already-small bathroom that was previously pokey and inefficient now feels so spacious, clean and yet full of amenity." - Renjie Teoh
Darling Point Apartment channels the art of Japanese Zen, but in a way that is appropriate to its Australian context and its mid-century heritage. The architect's close attention to detail and focus on light, and materiality has created a space which is filled with a sense of grounding calm. Renjie Teoh has achieved that quality that is so elusive - simplicity - and as we now know, that is not easy.