Smart Design Studio - Sydney Architects

Alexander, Barangaroo

Smart Design Studio was thrilled to be asked to design the interiors of the Alexander, Barangaroo residential apartments which set record sales at the end of August. All apartments in Alexander, along with those in Anadara (total 159 apartments) sold within 3 hours of their release.

The brief was to create an exceptional residential complex that maximised the site’s connection to Sydney harbour. Inspired by the streamlined curves and beautiful finishing of classic timber yachts, we fashioned understated and sophisticated interiors to embody the concept of “Wharfside Luxury”. To enhance the sense of urban elegance, sandblasted joinery suggests the finely detailed finishing of mid-century Danish design in a raw, authentic manner.


In the joinery and tiling you see rounded corners. In order to avoid them feeling too heavy, they are combined with other sharp corners in the space so you get a beautiful combination of rounded and sharp, straight and curved. This also fits into our body of work where we are working a lot with compositions that are not symmetrical but are balanced combined displays with rounded corners. This creates a feeling of cutting, folding and manipulating materials and gives a strong visual effect. Lighting and ceiling design is also very important. The lights in apartments are concealed and revealed and instead of having feature lights, that generally arrangements of pairs and then big slots carved into the ceiling, again using curved corners  to create a feeling of depth in the spaces. This is carried through to the minor fixtures and fittings. You see fixtures with rounded corners and sharp edges at the same time, classic and beautiful.


We wanted to create a fundamental difference between the two schemes, by the choice of materials, to reflect our experience with clients and how divided they can feel about tiled or timber floors. They often tell us they love one type and couldn’t live with the other.

One scheme has been created with blonde wood timber floors and matching timber joinery. The other scheme has grey coloured vitrified tiles, resembling travertine marble, and is complemented by stronger red joinery, chosen to create warmth. The timber veneer, rather than polished, is sandblasted with a feeling of rawness and depth. The red timber was also chosen for design longevity for, though it is quite unusual at this point in time, we have a view that if you want to do something that will not date ie not go out of fashion, then don’t do something that is simply fashionable. We chose to move away from the all grey timber veneers, something that is quite fashionable right now, and do something more unusual and beautiful.


There was great focus on developing the interior planning, the most critical component of spaces, with flow and ease. The floor plans have beautifully proportioned and effortlessly simple interiors, each with a central axis and long vistas.  This results in every Kitchen, Living and Dining area in the development, along with many master bedrooms, having water views. The apartments will have a 5 star green star rating and this has been achieved by using GECA rated materials throughout, coupled with energy efficient fixtures and water efficient fittings.

Each scheme is complemented by glass mosaic tiles in the bathroom. The tiled scheme has beautiful red terracotta glass tiles that vary enormously from one to the other and look beautiful with the aluminium trims in the bathroom. The blonde wood scheme is has golden honey coloured glass mosaic tiles and they are complemented by gold coloured anodised aluminium. Both schemes were very successful.



This development, comprising 77 apartments, builds on and evolves the body of work created by Smart Design Studio, whilst adapting to this unique waterfront site. The result is a building which has interiors of rounded corners and smooth forms, but which uses matt timbers and rough tiles, resonating with the raw and unpolished history of these old dockyards.