This is a photo of our design studio in the Blue Mountains, just west of Sydney in Australia.
The Studio was designed and built in 2002 in Sydney sandstone, and has been designed to look like an old country barn or shed, with parking and storage space, and a studio on top.
The property itself has an original stone cottage, as pictured, built in 1890 as well as a stone stables, and there are several stone sculptures in the garden.
When designing the studio we set about creating a great open yet private work space, and set about designing the building so that it would be complimentary to the original house, yet not compete with it.
Features such as the green glass arched windows were obtained from a Sydney recycling centre - the windows and glass being from 18th century Germany. The garage doors are lined with Himalayan Beech timber over a Tilt-a-Door frame, and we added mock wooden hinges and door handles to create the illusion of heavy steel hinges and doors that opened outwards.The stonework itself is of random-coursed stone, and was cut from stone boulders using a diamond saw with traditional steel wedges used to break the stone into blocks of various sizes and colours.
While most stone buildings use the same sized rectangular blocks and are used much like bricks in the construction, we chose to use random stone so that we stayed in the same style as the house. The courses were created by bringing the stonework up to a level stringline, and then building up to a new higher stringline as the building gained height.
We also added quoins around the windows and doors to add an additional feature using stone from Colo River, and the front keystone above the window includes a carved stone face added as a decorative touch.
The great beauty of stone is that it changes colour with the light so creating its own mood and atmosphere, be it on a sunny day, wet afternoon or night. As a landscape designer once said - "Stone links architecture to the earth". When the stone was cut - much of it from demolitions around Sydney - it often gave out the smell of the ocean, probably trapped for hundreds of years.
Other features include steel-hooded air vents, modeled on those found on the old house, a verandah deck built in heavy timber to create more the feeling of an old wharf than simply a deck. Inside, the studio is lined with recycled Baltic pine polished floors.
In our design work, we view the design of a building in the same way that we see all other design work. While it is relatively easy to design something 'just to do the job', it is far more satisfying and exciting to design a project using imagination as well as skill in its production. It may be packaging, point of sale or corporate identity work, but all of these are communication and it is the passion we put into each of them which make will make it exceptional.
If you are interested in the history of sandstone buildings in Sydney, Australia, have a look at the book Secrets in Stone - written, photographed and published by Geoff Stuart.