Short Lane by Woods Bagot
“Conceived as an urban garden, Short Lane is a mixed-use development which retains the diversity of the local neighbourhood and creates places for more of it to happen – with new botanical spaces, walkable laneways and venues for local participation.
In a gritty inner city suburb of Sydney, Short Lane is a development of 22 apartments above street level retail which creates a new verdant apartment typology. The compact one and two bedroom apartments are scaled for inner city living and integrate nature within a harsh urban environment.
In a meaningful extension of the living building, cantilevered landscaped terraces stagger across the building elevation, dripping with Cilandra and Periwinkle to create private botanical spaces for residents.
A powerful influence on sustainable design, the integration of nature with physical dwellings was employed as a key design tactic by Woods Bagot's global design leader, Domenic Alvaro, who says that organic design and lush-luxe are siblings in an international trend to bring natural beauty and its calming effects into high quality design.
"We were interested in the development connecting with its context in new ways by looking at the way urban nature can be experienced and woven into the city, with an emphasis on biophilia," said Mr Alvaro.
Within the apartments, understated interiors create a sophisticated urban retreat. Exposed concrete ceilings are balanced by the earthy warmth of oak floors and each living area has full height sliding glass doors leading to an outdoor area.
Mr Alvaro said Short Lane highlighted the “greening of our city” idea – small in scale, the apartments have unusually high amenity by bringing the garden into the very fabric of their living spaces.
“Short Lane proposes an exemplar for small-scale, mixed-use city living which offers a collection of unique, designer apartments each with its own private balcony and landscaped feature gardens,” he said.
Substantial landscaping on all levels provides deep soil zones for large vegetation and smaller scale areas filled with plant life appropriate to the climatic conditions of the locality.
Height, scale, materiality and architectural expression purposefully complement the adjoining heritage of the site including the Wesley Mission building and neighbouring 1847 Methodist Church. The design also balances the beautifully crafted Beresford Hotel, and an old terrace which has been converted to a modest food precinct as part of the site. Graffiti artwork on the terrace has been restored by the original artist and forms part of the new lane entry experience.
With its deep reveal to ensure internal tenancy design doesn’t privatise the public domain, it also accommodates a variety of internal tenancy divisions without compromising the character of the design or the context. Vertical infill elements further express this play – glazing, operable screens and windows, and ribbed aluminium panels between concrete terraces. The reveal and infill features provide passive shading and privacy.
At street level, a series of metal clad framed window bays sits within a larger framed form. This play with scale allows the double height retail spaces to mediate with the finer grain of the neighbouring terraces and smaller scale commercial tenancies at street level.
“With retail tenancies activating the main street frontage and connecting to the surrounding lanes, it provides a vibrant entry point for the residences above,” he said.
A new laneway between the site and the next door terrace building continues the grain of the neighbourhood's successful laneway activation.
Mr Alvaro said the surrounding precinct of Surry Hills was home to an evolving grain of laneway cafes, retail outlets, bars and restaurants and the project seeks to reinvigorate the Short Lane at its eastern boundary, contributing to the successfully reactivated Surry Hills laneway network. “