In this project a specific, historic example - Charles Garnier’s Opera de Paris - is dissected and transformed to inform a post-industrial space closer to home. A familiar warehouse apartment type is questioned and enriched via a theoretical shift of function and cultural context.
A 3-storey brick warehouse shell in the Foy and Gibson complex in Collingwood has been remodelled from a 200sq.m bedsit reliant on borrowed ventilation and light to an apartment with flexible spaces and good inside / outside relationships. Reworking the idea of stage, theatre box, foyer, circulation (both grand + functional) and back-of-house to suit domestic function requires a re-examination of how space is utilised in a dwelling and presents an opportunity to introduce playful drama.
Is bathing a performance?
What happens in the dark spaces at the edge of the stage?
Analysis of models of L’Opera identified a tri-partite organisation of space in section which resonated with the functional and physical opportunities this apartment presented.
The ‘front’ areas, with their height, natural light, views and original features, remain empty and revel in the glory of the building’s heritage.
This is the stage.
Vertical circulation is inserted into the deep, isolated ‘back’ of the plan. It brings filtered natural light and snippets of views into these areas and frees the ‘middle / front’ edge for occupation.
The ‘middle’ is the interstitial blackness between foyer and seats; between dressing room and stage; the furtive shadows at the back of the theatre box. This inky space is for quiet occupation and provides openings in black walls which frame long views through from back to front, out to the street and up to the sky.
The public ‘display’ spaces are treated with rich, patterned, lavishness. Economical materials are often used inventively to achieve this effect. In contrast the back-of-house palette is honest and utilitarian.
The project seeks to achieve overall cohesion between both front and back and between old and new. Like the Paris Opera, this project uses revelation and concealment to create tension and theatrical effect.