The 2016 Australian Timber Design Awards have named Bates Smart the winner of the Small Budget Distinction Category for their project 106 Flinders Street.
The overarching concept for the project was to create a timeless workspace that was a nurturing and serene environment for the client. Elegant and simple details were used to fully express this single material we chose to work with for the project. The timber was simply left to express its own natural beauty.
106 Flinders Street was designed as a cabin laboratory for an architectural physicist in Melbourne’s CBD. The space reconsiders the conventional workplace vocabulary and elements – conceiving a single space to work, meet and entertain. The office is a tranquil and meditative sanctuary that is entirely clad in Douglas Fir.
The brief required a welcoming space as though one were at home. The client needed a calm tranquil office – called a thought space. Designed to replicate the environment of the client’s usual workspace in the Dandenongs, the space reflects the client’s timber framed and clad house in the country and brings a much needed respite for inner city working – a veritable modern day haven.
An original solution, this is a one of a kind that breaks trend to invoke new uses and new associations and creates a signaling of what the future of work could be, focused on creation and collaboration.
Working closely with a meticulous and passionate carpenter, the entire space was essentially hand crafted singlehandedly over months of construction. Virtually no drawings were given and most of the design evolved through sketches and many conversations. Clad entirely in locally and sustainably sourced timber, minimal wastage was achieved by using left over timber for furniture and functional elements such as door handles and other details of the design.
106 Flinders Street used entirely timber for the walls, floors, ceilings, doors, fixtures and furniture, which reduced the need for applied finishes in the space. The timber has a layer of low VOC coating for added durability.
A natural solid timber was chosen to allow the space to age gracefully.
New full height glass windows held by large timber posts were used along the Flinders Street interface to create a noise and insulation barrier from the street.
The new timber framed windows along the Flinders Street interface integrated seamlessly with the remainder of the space which was encased in a layer of solid timber Douglas Fir Pine.
The meticulous attention to detail shown by the carpenter ensured the contiguity of spatial geometry, aligning door openings, joinery and building services to the lines set out by the timber.
When entering 106 Flinders Street, one’s senses are primed by a quiet, dark threshold space – in contrast to the outside. One journeys through the entryway before entering the timber lined spaces within, heightening its effect through this experiential contrast. By using a single natural material for the floors, walls and ceilings the design provokes clarity of space and materiality.
Originally occupied as an empty shell that was conceived as a retail space, the place now provides an aromatic sensorial experience that transports you back to nature through the detectable whiffs of timber that envelope the space.
A low VOC water based penetrative sealant was used to finish the timber, allowing the natural characteristics of the Douglas Fir to be expressed and celebrated, creating a warm and welcoming work environment whilst ensuring that the timber can be easily recycled in its greater life cycle.
The flexible open plan work space has been designed to have access to an abundance of natural light and ventilation via the large bifolding facade and operable windows along the street, resulting in minimal reliance on artificial lighting during daylight hours whilst providing fresh air to the office space.