Our client had been looking to purchase a large, warehouse type building in inner-Sydney. When the two storey 970sqm former produce factory became available it ticked all of the desired brief requirements in terms of scale, character, location and access. A limited competition was held between four designers to propose a concept for the space before AJ+C was chosen as the preferred designer. The brief talked of creating a special cocoon-like place of quiet retreat, switched off from the outside world. From this, the idea of an independent/insulated sleeping pod emerged. Something 'organic' and sculptural would be a counterpoint to the strong and regular orthogonal geometry of its surroundings.
To strip out a complete structural bay of the warehouse to create a top lit void, approximately 4m wide and extending the full width of the warehouse. This connected the two floors and functionally and physically separated the sleeping areas from the living space. Connections could be had by bridge and stairs within this void. To introduce an alien, sculptural element into the upper/living space to 'make' spaces.This idea developed from discussions with the client about a sleeping pod, an insulated, quiet space. From these discussions, early free-hand sketches described what we termed 'The Man Cave', a sculpted pod that would fit within the existing structure, containing a sleeping space and an en suite.
From idea to reality, the 'cave' was something unlike anything previously constructed. How to physically build this object became an intriguing journey, ultimately leading to yacht building technologies, which are often at the forefront of new and innovative products and engineering. AJ+C produced a CAD model of the cave which was then converted by MOULDCAM, a company specializing in marine, industrial and architectural construction to programme a five-axis cutting machine to create moulds for the 12 sections of the cave. The cave occupies approx. 70sqm in area and weighs approx. 13 tonnes. It is mounted on isolating rubber pads on top of the original floor. The chimney connects and penetrates the roof
bringing light into the en suite. AJ+C designed the door hardware for the double curvature pod door, a challenge to design and locate its pivot point. The stainless steel hardware was once again fabricated by boat builders. This is a technically and spatially innovative project. From its conception through its manufacture as well as its services, electrical and mechanical, the smallest detail of door hardware and shower drainage, had not been done before. Every step was a new challenge and discovery. The result is surprising, challenging our spatial perceptions and concepts of building and bringing a sense of delight at this unexpected addition to a Sydney warehouse.
The interior of the cave is deceptively simple. Walls, ceiling and 'furniture' are all formed from the same white resin shell. The floor to the sleeping area is large individual freeform leather tiles, constructed of plywood sheeting with a padded cushion overlay wrapped in selected leather hides. Programmable LED lighting 'snakes' around the perimeter of the floor at the junction with the shell. Both bed and wardrobe entertainment unit are integrated within the bedroom structure. Formed from glass reinforced foam, they also supply and return air to the space. The bed is king sized and floats above the leather floor, it seamlessly becomes part of the bedside table then becoming the wall to the bedroom.
The space below the bed forms a plenum and grilles allow air to be returned to the main unit. The entertainment unit supplies fresh air through two 300 diameter ducts that deliver ait to the top of the unit and then the form itself spreads the air into the room. This unit also includes a wardrobe, integrated shelves and a large flat screen TV and speakers. These are bespoke pieces, their form evolved with the form of “the cave”. They are finished and constructed in the same manner so become seamlessly integrated into the space.
The bathroom floor is constructed from certified sustainable teak flooring in the manner of a yacht deck. Drainage is concealed in the subfloor, light and exhaust is provided by the 'chimney' that punctures the roof of the existing warehouse. All door hardware is purpose designed and fabricated from stainless steel carrying through the marine theme. The cave is spatially different to most built surroundings and it is playful and surprising.