Where Architects Live | William Smart

  • Recipient of numerous architectural awards from the Australian Institute of Architects including the prestigious Sir Arthur G. Stephenson Award, the new studio and home for architect William Smart and his team of 48 is breathtaking. Located at Alexandria, in one of Sydney’s conservation areas, what was formerly a 1950s warehouse has become a capsule of William’s enormous talent.

    William retained many of the original features, such as the steel trusses but created an entirely new vision of how his team could work and he and his partner could live. “The facade of this warehouse had previously been altered so many times, with different windows truncated at every stage, that we didn’t feel we were compromising the original structure,” William says.

    Instead of the variety of apertures, William created what has become his ‘signature’ seamless glazed Roman-style bricks that almost appear to have been fashioned on a potter’s wheel, allowing light to permeate this precious vessel where it’s needed. And on the top level, William added a series of interlocking barrel-vaulted forms, clad in steel and featuring a masterful application of hand-glued bricks the colour of alabaster.

    As with William’s previous studio, arranged around the art of model-making, here, staff are literally surrounded by maquettes, all constructed in Balsawood and painted white, like the pristine white walls dotted with plans and schemes. Finely curated like William’s bespoke homes, apartments and commercial projects, even the staff computers and materials appear recessive in the individual black laminated alcoves.

    William’s living and dining space features some of the architect’s most loved pieces, including the Italian-made 1085 dining chairs by Studio Bartoli for Kristalia and the Marenco sofa by Mario Marenco for Arflex.

    Corian surfaces characterise William’s stripped-back kitchen, with Cassatta floors by Ocean & Merchant running from one end of the vaulted apartment to the other.

    A dressing room acts as a ‘veil’ to William’s bedroom. Embedded into the dressing room cupboards are graphic paintings by artist Mike Parr. William’s signature pieces, the Roy Tavolo table lamp by Mario Nanni for Viabizzuno and the Onda bedside table by Poliform, complement the minimalist scheme.

    William’s bathroom features a custom vanity and mirrors, Vola tapware and Society Limonta towels – just as the bedroom features Society Limonta bedlinen in soft grey tones.

    While this studio is open plan on a substantial footprint of 3,600 square metres, there’s also the boardroom and enclosed meeting areas on the mezzanine level. Accessed by terrazzo treads and 53 white steel wires for the balustrade, it’s artfully conceived ‘macrame’ (a 1970s phenomenon) for the future.

    While William enjoys the studio environment, he also appreciates leaving this space at occasional times during the day and every night to find solitude in the loft-style apartment he shares with his partner. “When we were planning this space, we decided to make it entirely open, with the only fixed door to the bathroom,” William says. So, while everything is on one level and without doors, spaces have been discretely located to create privacy.

    Featuring pink granite floors and curvaceous ceilings, reaching an apex of four metres, the apartment includes everything that William’s last home didn’t, and in some instances did, include. “We never use a bath so why include this? Likewise, we didn’t want the kitchen to ‘read’ as a traditional kitchen,” William says, pointing out the sculptured Corian bench with two smaller fridges concealed below. This artistry extends to the dressing area that creates a subtle ‘veil’ to the bedroom. Embedded into the dressing room cupboards are graphic paintings by artist Mike Parr.

    For William, who designed this space for the long term, there’s a sense of calm and tranquillity as he enters the separate entrance via a curved glass wall set into the black glazed brick facade and climbs the pink terrazzo treads. “It’s such a reflective space, enjoying the stream of light on the brickwork and how this changes along with the reflections of the landscape on the glass. It’s serene and allows me the space that I need not only physically but in my mind,” William adds.


    This feature originally appeared in est Magazine issue #42.

    William Smart | Photography courtesy of Martin Mischkulnig

    William designed the top of the warehouse into a series of interlocking barrel-vaulted forms clad in steel and hand-glued Chillingham White Bowral Bricks.

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