Introspective and Calm – Smash Repair House by Matt Elkan Architect
Paddington, NSW, Australia

Photography Clinton Weaver
Interior Design Matt Elkan Architect
Words Bronwyn Marshall
Structural Engineer SDA Structures

As an inner urban retreat, Smash Repair House takes occupancy within the walls of an existing automotive workshop in inner Sydney. Matt Elkan Architect deliberately turns inward and introspectively opens the building with a focus around the experience of being within the home: light and calm, contained and sheltered.

Set amongst established Victorian-era terrace homes in Sydney’s Paddington, Smash Repair House offers an unexpected break in the streetscape. Its painted brick walled façade encases the home and builds a sense of curiosity through its singular steel entry door and its general unusual nature, amongst its context. Strong Japanese influences see a study of privacy, reflection and the instilling of calm to an otherwise misplaced vernacular. The focus, instead of being outward and street facing as so many in its close proximity, becomes about the experience and the sense of enclosure, protection and sanctitude created from within. Matt Elkan Architect draws on contrasts and a tension with expectation to propose a home of rich materiality and engagement with natural light

The interior is enriched through warm timber and a layered approach to finishes, conjuring a retreat space for its professional owners.

Built by ARC Project and with landscaping by Katherine Webster, Smash Repair House sees the clever use of the internal volume to optimise spatial relationships. The interior is enriched through warm timber and a layered approach to finishes, conjuring a retreat space for its professional owners. At the core of the brief was to create a home that nurtured and felt transformative, once crossing the threshold from outside. The area the home sits within is part of a larger conversation about conservation, and the creation of such a warm and embracing home from its industrious past adds an element of intrigue from approach.

While the exterior is near void of ornament or detail, which its cloaking in light paint emphasises, the internal experience sits in refreshing contrast. The internal courtyard is its own oasis that is the breather of natural light and air across its three levels and ensures a connection to a living element. Influenced by the Japanese principles of Oku, layers are peeled back and allow a revealing of elements in the process, while also offering flexibility of function. Natural materiality reinforces a warmth and provides a texturally diverse series of surfaces for light to bounce off of, increasing a sense of space.

The focus, instead of being outward and street facing as so many in its close proximity, becomes about the experience and the sense of enclosure, protection and sanctitude created from within.

Smash Repair House uses restraint and forethought to embrace passive energy functions of the home, with the reuse and recycling of materials found on site completing the picture. Matt Elkan Architect has crafted a convincing statement about reuse within inner urban environments and through a focus on richness and layering small and meaningful places to reside evolve as a result.

Published 10 June, 2021
Photography  Clinton Weaver
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