A Balmain warehouse stripped bare and reimagined as a contemporary home melds the surburb's past and present

102 THE MILL: Matte black steel and shiny black tiles capture the essence of the building's previous life as a warehouse, while creating a standout look of contemporary design. Wood beam ceilings and reclaimed brickwork feature throughout the home's living area. The main bedroom's balcony (far left) sits over the urban garden. The light-filled pale palette of the ensuite is in contrast to the rest of the moody industrial feel of the home, creating a spa-like oasis. Photos: Brett Boardman.

102 THE MILL: Matte black steel and shiny black tiles capture the essence of the building's previous life as a warehouse, while creating a standout look of contemporary design. Wood beam ceilings and reclaimed brickwork feature throughout the home's living area. The main bedroom's balcony (far left) sits over the urban garden. The light-filled pale palette of the ensuite is in contrast to the rest of the moody industrial feel of the home, creating a spa-like oasis. Photos: Brett Boardman.

The ambition for 102 The Mill was to preserve the industrial and varied history of inner western Sydney suburb Balmain, while creating an inspiring and generous home.

As older established suburbs grow and change there are opportunities to balance the use of existing materials with a sensitive selection of new elements that continue to tell the story of the suburb while adapting to new uses.

Carter Williamson Architects' philosophy of ensuring their clients feel secure, confident and expressive, while being able to reflect in peaceful surrounds, is encapsulated at 102 The Mill.

Existing buildings were considered as an opportunity to design a generous, robust, character-filled home.

The plan is divided into three areas east to west - vertical circulation, a service wall, and places for living.

This design strategy allows frequently used spaces to experience maximum light, air and openness through the north, west and south facade.

The home's past industrial life is wonderfully evident inside. The recycled three-storey brick wall follows the staircase up, perfectly complementing the steel beam elements on display throughout the home.

"Using the existing warehouse framework, we created beautiful volumes including a 12 metre high void drawing light down four levels of winding stairs," says principal architect Shaun Carter.

In the living area matte black joinery forms the service wall spine, releasing the western facade to a ribbon of sliding windows.

The main bedroom ensuite's tall walls are clad with light grey fan tiles which are perfectly complemented by patinated brass fixtures.

The Mill's courtyard is accessible through floor to ceiling sliding glass doors. It is lined with natural stones and cocooned in black steel-capped tall wood panels.

Reused beams, which were fire damaged in the warehouse's previous life, were put to work to line the courtyard - another example of the home's adaptive re-use of materials.

Carter Williamson consider tiles as thin bricks and bricks as thin tiles. In this instance rich black tiles have been used to line the warehouse facade to create a new sophisticated identity for the home which in turn places utmost importance on its landscaping.

Set under the main bedroom's balcony is a lush urban garden and small pond lined in recycled brickwork, skirted by the familiar aged steel of the exterior walls.

Plants are used to act as a green screen between buildings, maintaining privacy and delivering 30 per cent landscape area to a site previously 100 per cent hard stand.

Where materials have been inserted or replaced, they've contributed to turning a warehouse into a home, responding to context while opening dialogue with neighbouring buildings.

By maintaining the original height of the warehouse the street composition is kept.

The additional third floor balcony continues the conversation with the adjacent traditional terraces.

The home acts as a mediator and transition piece as Balmain straddles the past and present.

By embracing its former factory life, 102 The Mill manages to capture the gritty feel of industrial Balmain.

The resulting home blends in with its inner Sydney surroundings, yet strikes forward as a pillar of contemporary Australian architecture.

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