Smart Design Studio - Sydney Architects

Smart Design Studio

632 Bourke Street has been transformed from a warren of boarding house rooms to a contemporary office and living space, HQ of Smart Design Studio. Formerly two adjoining terraces with rear stables, the building occupies a prominent corner position in Surry Hills; its length faces due north and provides an important streetscape to the shared pedestrian roadway of Ridge Street. Conceived as a contemporary steel and glass insertion within an existing masonry shell, the building consists of two levels of studios and a rooftop apartment.


The existing shell of the building has been retained, large vertical apertures cut through to reveal a layer of glass louvres framed by deep stainless steel casements. A rigorous grid informed the design approach for the whole building – from the steel structure to tiling set-out, workspaces and joinery and lighting – establishing coherency throughout the building.



Overall, the building is an upfront, honest layering of old and new as expressed by the raw treatment of the exterior façade through to the smooth, modern interior. The rooftop addition connects the double-height banks of glass louvres with an articulated aluminium roof folding down as a screen to the back of the building. The invigorated building successfully incorporates flexible and functional office interiors and a two bedroom rooftop apartment within a rigorously controlled contemporary architecture of old and new. Completed 2004.