The ultimate sophistication

Shane Kingsbeer’s architectural studio.

Shane Kingsbeer’s architectural studio.

SIMPLICITY AND ELEGANCE: Architectural designer Shane Kingsbeer’s design for his new studio is about simplicity and refinement in the complex details.
Pictures by Liam Clayton
Shane Kingsbeer's architectural studio.
Shane Kingsbeer's architectural studio.
Shane Kingsbeer's architectural studio.

Art and architecture go hand in hand, says architectural designer Shane Kingsbeer. The Ballance Street studio he designed himself is hung with contemporary art works on loan from the Paul Nache gallery. These pieces will be replaced from time to time with new works.

“I want to rotate the art and bring some of the artists here,” says Kingsbeer.

“The rotation of artwork brings new interest.”

The concept of engagement that extends beyond the conventional borders of a designer/client relationship extends to the openness of Kingsbeer’s design for the new studio he shares with colleague Greg Saunders.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci once said — and simplicity is key to Kingsbeer’s design. Viewed from the road, the box-shaped workroom seems to float above the ground. The building is clad with heat-treated pine that will silver over time. To the left of the building, and almost tucked under the cantilevered building, is a long narrow trench, the fishpond.

No signage, not even a letterbox, is out front to detract from the design’s unbroken lines and planes. No fence separates the studio from the street. Passers-by are welcome to stop and have a look at the fish in the concrete trench. Kingsbeer has even laid a paving stone at the foot of the trench for people to stand on.

The inspiration for the feature was the fishpond Kingsbeer’s grandparents built into their home’s front steps.

“I grew up with that,” says Kingsbeer.

“Kids on the way home from school came to have a look. I experienced how people interacted with the house. The concept is about having the building interact with people rather than them just walk past.”

Interactive

Kingsbeer even relaid the footpath paving slabs out front. The slabs are poured concrete rather than aggregate; light-coloured and smooth rather than dark and coarse.

“We want people to walk in and interact,” says the designer.

“A lot of people stop and ask what we’re doing and come in for a look.”

The studio itself has a similar atmosphere of openness. The floor-to-ceiling glass frontage functions as a door that swings open on a central pivot. A sliding door would have presented “a lot of lines”, says Kingsbeer. The pivoting window presents an unbroken plane. Two steps and the visitor is indoors where there is no front desk but an open plan, naturally lit, area. A computer bench runs along the right wall. To the left is a consultation/social/yoga space.

A big part of the design is about optimising a comparatively small space. People mostly use certain areas of their living space, says Kingsbeer. A lot of space in homes and offices is barely used.

“It seemed pointless to have a separate office or meeting room. It’s better to have a space where we can interact and socialise rather than create dead spaces. We don’t need a lot of space.”

That multi-purpose space has a floor-to-ceiling, sliding window that opens onto a view of the hills to the north, a compact garden and the fishpond. No deck is needed. The sense of interior/exterior flow is enhanced by the vertical garden on an indoor wall.

“The design blurs nature and the workspace,” says Kingsbeer.

The uncluttered, open plan floor means a multi-use table on castors can be used to present drawings to clients, to meet around or it can be rolled out of the way to create a yoga space.

Kingsbeer has incorporated several Abodo timber products into the build. The company’s timbers are harvested from sustainable plantation forests.

Honesty in materials

Most materials used in Kingsbeer’s design are unadorned. Seams between the blonde plywood sheets that line the ceiling are visible as are the layers of laminated plywood in the edges of the work table. The timber floor is siligna gum.

“They’re real materials. Real materials aren’t perfect. There’s an honesty in them.”

Floor and ceiling are separated by black walls, a break with conventional white walls. The black walls hold apart the top and bottom light colours.

“It holds the contrast of light and dark away from each other. We used dark joinery to make it look like one unit. The joinery disappears into the walls.”

Kingsbeer designed details such as the bare plywood, handle-less credenzas himself.

“I looked at buying a set of drawers but I couldn’t do it.”

A small hallway also functions as a compact kitchen, but the beer bar with chrome pump installed by Sunshine Brewery is not so much concealed as embedded in the fabric of the building.

Simplicity is evident in the look of design but there is refinement and complexity in the detail.

“We wanted something finished well, and small rather than a larger scale where the detail would be lost,” says Kingsbeer.

“Everything has been considered but not everyone would notice the detail. The design is simple but well-finished. We don’t have skirting boards, or flashing outside.

“This is about the simplicity and finish.”

Art and architecture go hand in hand, says architectural designer Shane Kingsbeer. The Ballance Street studio he designed himself is hung with contemporary art works on loan from the Paul Nache gallery. These pieces will be replaced from time to time with new works.

“I want to rotate the art and bring some of the artists here,” says Kingsbeer.

“The rotation of artwork brings new interest.”

The concept of engagement that extends beyond the conventional borders of a designer/client relationship extends to the openness of Kingsbeer’s design for the new studio he shares with colleague Greg Saunders.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci once said — and simplicity is key to Kingsbeer’s design. Viewed from the road, the box-shaped workroom seems to float above the ground. The building is clad with heat-treated pine that will silver over time. To the left of the building, and almost tucked under the cantilevered building, is a long narrow trench, the fishpond.

No signage, not even a letterbox, is out front to detract from the design’s unbroken lines and planes. No fence separates the studio from the street. Passers-by are welcome to stop and have a look at the fish in the concrete trench. Kingsbeer has even laid a paving stone at the foot of the trench for people to stand on.

The inspiration for the feature was the fishpond Kingsbeer’s grandparents built into their home’s front steps.

“I grew up with that,” says Kingsbeer.

“Kids on the way home from school came to have a look. I experienced how people interacted with the house. The concept is about having the building interact with people rather than them just walk past.”

Interactive

Kingsbeer even relaid the footpath paving slabs out front. The slabs are poured concrete rather than aggregate; light-coloured and smooth rather than dark and coarse.

“We want people to walk in and interact,” says the designer.

“A lot of people stop and ask what we’re doing and come in for a look.”

The studio itself has a similar atmosphere of openness. The floor-to-ceiling glass frontage functions as a door that swings open on a central pivot. A sliding door would have presented “a lot of lines”, says Kingsbeer. The pivoting window presents an unbroken plane. Two steps and the visitor is indoors where there is no front desk but an open plan, naturally lit, area. A computer bench runs along the right wall. To the left is a consultation/social/yoga space.

A big part of the design is about optimising a comparatively small space. People mostly use certain areas of their living space, says Kingsbeer. A lot of space in homes and offices is barely used.

“It seemed pointless to have a separate office or meeting room. It’s better to have a space where we can interact and socialise rather than create dead spaces. We don’t need a lot of space.”

That multi-purpose space has a floor-to-ceiling, sliding window that opens onto a view of the hills to the north, a compact garden and the fishpond. No deck is needed. The sense of interior/exterior flow is enhanced by the vertical garden on an indoor wall.

“The design blurs nature and the workspace,” says Kingsbeer.

The uncluttered, open plan floor means a multi-use table on castors can be used to present drawings to clients, to meet around or it can be rolled out of the way to create a yoga space.

Kingsbeer has incorporated several Abodo timber products into the build. The company’s timbers are harvested from sustainable plantation forests.

Honesty in materials

Most materials used in Kingsbeer’s design are unadorned. Seams between the blonde plywood sheets that line the ceiling are visible as are the layers of laminated plywood in the edges of the work table. The timber floor is siligna gum.

“They’re real materials. Real materials aren’t perfect. There’s an honesty in them.”

Floor and ceiling are separated by black walls, a break with conventional white walls. The black walls hold apart the top and bottom light colours.

“It holds the contrast of light and dark away from each other. We used dark joinery to make it look like one unit. The joinery disappears into the walls.”

Kingsbeer designed details such as the bare plywood, handle-less credenzas himself.

“I looked at buying a set of drawers but I couldn’t do it.”

A small hallway also functions as a compact kitchen, but the beer bar with chrome pump installed by Sunshine Brewery is not so much concealed as embedded in the fabric of the building.

Simplicity is evident in the look of design but there is refinement and complexity in the detail.

“We wanted something finished well, and small rather than a larger scale where the detail would be lost,” says Kingsbeer.

“Everything has been considered but not everyone would notice the detail. The design is simple but well-finished. We don’t have skirting boards, or flashing outside.

“This is about the simplicity and finish.”

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The King has no clothes - 15 days ago
It's a box with windows. No wonder the world is in the mess it is.

Zeynep Heyzen Ates - 9 days ago
We saw the construction at every stage. I walk to Frank and Albies for lunch, and I pass in front of it. It is a beautiful design, they had the iron skeleton, then they balanced it with wood. And that gorgeous window.
People who work in cubicles - or in any kind of closed space - would know that it drives you insane after a while. That window is keeping them connected to the world. And I guess with the soundproofing, it is disconnecting them enough to do their work as well. That frame could have worked better with a nicer view, but with the different people passing by every day, it might go well with the idea of ever-changing pictures.
Every time I pass by I still look at that window door and I think how gorgeous it is. Only thing I don't like about that building is the water. I had thought they might have a vertical garden inside or something like that, but from what I understand from the article they don't.

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