Indigo Slam
Feature Article
Chippendale, NSW, Australia

Words Cassie Vicente
Photography Sharrin Rees
When your client’s primary brief states, “I want the best house in the world” and not much else, it opens up some pretty daring architectural possibilities. The result is a liveable piece of art, fittingly so for the renown art collector client.
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If Indigo Slam is a project designed from the inside out, it’s sculptural concrete exterior is testimony to the architectural masterpiece that lies within. Indigo Slam is Smart Design Studio’s latest contribution to Sydney’s residential scene.

When your client’s primary brief states, “I want the best house in the world” and not much else, it opens up some pretty daring architectural possibilities. The result is a liveable piece of art, fittingly so for the renown art collector client.

Smart’s realisation of the brief expresses itself through a consideration of the home in terms of curated architectural experiences. These are demonstrated by the sequence of arrival through contrasting spaces, a studious composition of the interaction with light as well as the sensual interplay with materials. Much of the project’s timeless design and material selection is accredited to the requirement that the building last one hundred years.

Situated right outside the heart of the city centre, Indigo Slam is an unapologetic commentary of our current approach to art and design.

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First and foremost, let’s talk about that facade. The plasticity of the weaving concrete forms are breathed from a study of the interplay of light within the interior spaces. Smart Design Studio experimented with the idea of cutting, folding and stitching together flat planes to enfold and create dynamic space. In doing so, the building’s exterior not only serves as a sculptural piece, but also informs the manipulation of light for the building’s interiors. This language of weaving carries on through to the composition of interior spaces and how you meander up through the building. Indigo Slam is an outstanding private residence but also a generous public gesture, poised like a giant concrete sculpture across the grassy, urban park.

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The experience of the home as a whole is made up of particular moments. Smart uses both a considered contrast of spaces and the manipulation of light to orchestrate these defined occasions. Upon approach from the street, we are drawn behind a perforated steel skin, into a 2.2 meter high entrance foyer. The space then narrows into a low, light restricted corridor to then unveil an exaggerated 12 meter high, light bathed stair hall. It is Smart’s mastery of these spacial juxtapositions which curate an entirely immersive experience. This manipulation of the qualities of light are a result of designing from section rather than plan.

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Indigo Slam’s dynamic interplay of spaces continues through to the planning of the home. Smart is intentional with contrasting the impressively scaled, open entertaining areas, with intimately proportioned private living areas. These areas lead off the larger spaces and are tucked behind a single clean wall, separating the extravagance of the project by gently reminding us with glimpses of homely domesticity. There is a language of balance throughout the entity.

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The material selection throughout is deliberate and elite. The interior finishes are simple and pared back, an exhibition of brick, concrete, timber and marble. Smart has artfully restrained the materiality, allowing light to become the most decorative element of the building.

A robust selection of materials which are designed to endure a lifespan of 100 years, also serves to inform experiential tactile qualities of the interiors. An interview with William Smart explains the considerations as, “The floors will be brick throughout except for the showers. Judith (client) likes the simplicity of it and the sound the bricks will create. We will loose-lay them so you can hear the sound of clinking as you walk across a room. She is interested in all of that.” The wholistic approach to design and materiality extends to the craftsman involved, engaging a single Adelaide based furniture designer to fit out the house. It is evident that this project revolves around the experience it conceives, designed from the inside out.

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Having been named after a work of investigative mystery, Indigo Slam lives up to its name. There has been a meticulous consideration of all aspects regarding the experience of the residence, from facade form, down to furniture design. Smart has taken the liberty to create a unique home, which like all captivating art, does not concern itself with having to be polite about it’s disposition.

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Published: 11 August, 2017

Photography Credit:  Sharrin Rees
Architecture:  Smart Design Studio
Photography:  Sharrin Rees
Words:  Cassie Vicente
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