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Climate of change – reinvented apartments are in tune with the times and the environment

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Simon Rodrigues-designed coastal remodel ages gracefully

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Hand in hand with seaside views there often comes the rigour of a coastal climate. Responsive architecture will open a house up to the scenery but simultaneously close it down to the harsher forces of nature.

So much work was undertaken on this renovation that the project is really more closely akin to a new build. Lead architect Simon Rodrigues was asked to reinvent two of three separate strata-titled units developed in the 1980s with a shared Postmodern architectural face. Rooms in the original apartments were rather awkward and in general, the spaces were small.

The owner purchased the units with the idea of renovating them to optimise the site's potential, says Rodrigues.

"The most significant expansion of the building was the addition of balcony spaces on two sides of the apartments. These offer protection from storms and the hot afternoon sun," says Rodrigues. "The overall concept was to provide a new protective, contemporary skin for the building that would include the extra metres of balconies."

To enable the architect to introduce these and make the most of existing legal setbacks, the initial project design was dependent on retention of the basement and other key build elements. Approval was granted for the renovation based on these plans. However, propping up some elements, restoring others and building in between them all looked to be a costly exercise. So instead, Rodrigues had the project reassessed by council, who gave approval for him to rebuild from above the basement up, while keeping to the essence of the existing form. Now all the rooms are larger and better considered, and the new balconies bring shade and protection, as well as adding to the spaciousness and utility of the living areas of both units.

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In addition, Rodrigues introduced a new stair and lift to provide access down to the entry on the side of the building and to the shared basement garage.

Besides replacing the dated ‘80s look with a solid, modern profile, the architect also introduced a low-maintenance palette of mainly natural, unpainted materials.

"Part of the brief was to ensure the apartments would be low maintenance. To this end, we chose surfaces that would age gracefully under the often harsh prevailing winds," says the architect. "Zinc-coated structural steel and off-form concrete were used for the base build, together with naturally weathered Pacific teak cladding, preweathered zinc and perforated marine grade aluminium cladding; naturally weathered teak decks, aggregate concrete and limestone paving."

There is also an informal garden comprised of local native coastal plants, resistant to the salt-laden atmosphere.

Now well organised, the interiors are finished in a palette that references the exteriors – wood panels echo the teak cladding and the plaster has the look of the concrete formwork. Smooth limestone floors continue through all rooms.

The reinvented residences also have their share of surprises. A repositioned door to the master suite, now opening directly from the living area, is disguised within a V-groove panel feature wall, in another quiet material reference to the seaside location. Similarly, the rich wood panels near the entry of both units includes two doors in the same material, one leading to the control room and the other to a storage room.

The transformed apartments are ideal showcases for substantial artworks while simultaneously protecting and celebrating the wild coastal setting.

First published date: 19 June 2013

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Credit List

Architect, kitchen designer Simon Rodrigues AIA, Rodrigues Bodycoat Architects (Cottesloe, WA)
Interior designer Judy Maloney Interiors
Landscaping Felicity Bodycoat, Design In Green
Builder Damian Fewster
Kitchen manufacturer Harley Cabinets
Cladding Expression Pacific teak cladding, from Woodform Architectural; titanium zinc, preweathered, by Rheinzink, from Craft Metals; concrete
Roof Colorbond Surfmist
Window and door joinery Capral by Exclusive Aluminium
Window and door hardware Architectural Design Hardware
Blinds Executive Blind Solutions
Flooring Grigio Autunno marble from Bernini
Paints Dulux, Natural White
Lighting New from Dimension 8; vintage lighting selected by Judy Maloney and supplied by Hunters & Collectors
Heating In screed cables by Radiant Floor Heating; Daikin reverse cycle air conditioning, by Essential Air
Furniture New furniture arranged by Judy Maloney and supplied by S & M Mobilia; vintage furniture selected by Judy Maloney and supplied by Hunters & Collectors
Audiovisual Digital Interiors; Avlec Electronics
Control systems Clipsal C-Bus
Upstairs kitchen cabinetry Lacquer Dulux Natural White, manufactured by Harley Cabinets
Benchtops Statuario Venato marble
Upstairs master bathroom surfaces Bookmatched marble
Basins and tub From Sea of White
Internal timber wall cladding Sawn American walnut by Mobilia Cabinets
Water treatment Rainwater harvesting by Perth Environmental Plumbing
Solar power system Sungrid Photovoltaic modules, installed by Renewablelogic