Two 2013 Best of State Award for Residential Interior Design winning designs, ABU House in NSW and Teneriffe Warehouse Apartment in QLD, show how old warehouse space can be converted into liveable homes.

ABU House, also known as the Surry Hills Warehouse project, is an old warehouse repurposed into a single residence, located in Sydney’s Surry Hills suburb. The design combines new interior and exterior architectural elements with the existing perimeter walls.

magnolia tree

The magnolia tree in the courtyard – Abu House by Stephen Collins.

Two courtyards separate the altered main building and the new rear building and the floor plan was determined by the building’s function – a residence for an art collector, requiring controlled light access, airflow and climate.

Sydney-based studio Stephen Collins Interior Design created the award-winning project.

“Great adaptive re-use of a former commercial building. Beautifully detailed interiors set amongst a series of new terraced courtyards and framed views,” said juror Will Fung.

An open deck area, black staircase and magnolia tree define the interior design, creating a strong connection between the inside and the courtyards and allowing natural light and air to stream and flow in every space of the house.

Abu House orange painted steel beams

Bright orange painted steel beams – Abu House by Stephen Collins.

Collins explained that the vivid colours used in the structural beams and main entrance door were chosen to complement the existing semi-industrial brick-walls building, creating an “alternative aesthetic to the typical home.”

“This project mostly displays bold block colours. There are port wine walls at the rear to create a backdrop for the magnolia in the courtyard, bright orange blinds and steel beams, cerulean blue through to purple in the media room,” Collins said.

“Given steel, concrete, brick and timber are the predominant materials throughout, using strong colours with loads of texture was a simple fit.”

Similar concepts were applied in the Teneriffe Warehouse Apartment in QLD, designed by Wrightson Stewart Design Practice.

Abu House Interior

Abu House Interior by Stephen Collins Interior Design.

Located along the banks of the river in a heritage wool store, the main challenge of this apartment interior design project was to preserve the building’s rich architectural integrity.

Existing architectural elements such as solid oak flooring, exposed timber and steel trusses, a seven-metre high raked ceiling and original internal red brick perimeter walls provided the perfect envelope for the modern elements added during the refurbishment.

The open plan kitchen area features a glazed black brick splashback and dividing wall, challenging the conventional use of materials.

Ian Wrightson said the designers “had experimented with gloss faced bricks on a previous project and knew it was always something we wanted to explore further, but on a much larger scale. This project was our opportunity to do just that – allowing us a playful way to add layering to the existing raw brickwork.”

Teneriffe Warehouse Apartment

Teneriffe Warehouse Apartment by Wrightson Stewart.

The jury described the project as a design that “captures the historical integrity of the wool store apartments in Brisbane. The unadorned, heightened and industrial space allowed for an honest interior that places focus on its strong and dynamic architectural features. The interior truly meets the client’s brief of a dream bachelor pad.”