Ryokan Manly House / The Dform project
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Manufacturers: Australian wooden ceilings, Wonderwood
Text description provided by the architects. The ryokan is located in the heart of Manly, right in front of the famous Manly Beach, an iconic Australian beach frequented by tourists, surfers and volleyball players. The building was originally a two-storey Victorian-style tavern, built in the late 18th century. Over the years, two additional floors were built on top, making it a four-storey mixed-use building with shops on the ground floor and apartments on the upper floors.
Before the redesign by Dan Yang of Dform Projects, the floor plan wasn’t very well thought out… not much of the beautiful Manly sunshine came into the 52 sq m apartment. This, together with the complex plumbing, created a challenge for the architects that required a creative design solution. The architects tore down the bedroom wall to allow natural light to penetrate deeper into the apartment and moved the bathroom away from the entrance hall. They also opened up the kitchen, living and dining areas and combined them into a larger, overlapping area.
The introduction of floor-to-ceiling timbers brought the ‘outside’ in, enhancing the apartment’s ‘natural’ feel, a nod to the beautiful surroundings at the clients’ request to create ‘a uniquely masculine experience’. This feeling is evident from the first point of entry, where beauty and function meet. The foyer is a hybrid of a mudroom and a genkan, a Japanese entryway. There is a niche to hang jackets and place your keys. Under the niche is a pocket for shoe storage.
The entrance. A floating platform was created in the living area, creating a tatami-style living area that also leads to the bedroom. In the kitchen, matte black elements meet bronze mirrors for the kitchen’s splashback. The architects decided that a bronze mirror in this wooden context can create a softer ambient reflection of the surroundings.
The kitchen. The kitchen bench fits seamlessly into the bedroom platform. When you enter the bedroom, there is a zen garden with a bonsai tree coming out of the wall. The garden is behind a glass wall that connects to the kitchen. Zero maintenance Bonsai tree of lifelike materials, strategically placed under the skylight so that about 12-1 daily natural sunlight enters the room and shines on the Bonsai. On the other side of the garden is a sheer curtain that allows light to pass through to the bedroom but also provides privacy.
Next to the mattress, two small custom niches act as bedside tables, above which there are two wall lamps for a night mood. Next to the bedroom is a meditation room. The entrance to the meditation room is through a small window opening inspired by traditional Japanese teahouses. The architects intentionally lowered the ceiling and raised the platform to compress the vertical space that directed you to sit on the platform once passed through the opening. Here, the architects added another maintenance-free vertical garden. In this room you can detach yourself from work and stress.
The meditation room. There is around 15m3 of storage space under the bedroom and meditation room which can be used to store bulky and seasonal items. The second bedroom is hidden on the other side of the main entrance. When the door to the bedroom is opened, the partition wall of the wooden paneling becomes an extension of the wooden Genkan. Behind the foyer extension hides a small but practical study.