Providing a seamless mix of architecture and interior design, Adelaide-based Williams Burton Leopardi (WBL) create inspiring spaces that are made intelligently and from the heart. Wanting to create a design office to accurately demonstrate their design philosophy, their dream was realised last year with the completion of the Williams Burton Leopardi Studio. With a uniqueness and beauty that takes my breath away, I’m excited to be sharing it with you today.
Having revelled in the work of many residential alterations and additions over the years, WBL used these projects as a foundation for their own studio. A second home and a space to be inspired and to inspire their clients and collaborators, it was important that the studio reflect their work and values. The starting point was the discovery of a derelict 300 square metre space in the 100 year old State Heritage listed Darling Building, while en route to the pub one one day. Presenting an enticing opportunity to work with a storied building and in turn create their own, they looked past the pigeon poo and water-stained walls and carpets, to see the building’s potential and delicate natural light.
Their strategy was to touch as little as possible and as much as necessary. “Repair was celebrated, understanding that an object or space can more beautiful for having been broken, the flashes of gold throughout a nod to the Japanese art of Kinsugi.”
Contrasting the original, gritty exposed building fabric with delicate and carefully detailed insertions, these soften the masculine with the feminine, and the practical with the beautiful. With a limited budget the studio was opened up to maximise the wonderful light, while modest insertions of steel framed glazing, recycled 1920’s partitions and found objects set the scene, but not a salvaged aesthetic. Internally there are framed views of the connected spaces, and the front meeting spaces look out to the city scape. The light well allows an outlook to the sky and a window to the developing Adelaide Skyline.
WBL’s design process is both interactive and reclusive, and inspiration can happen at the most opportune and random moments. The planning and layering of the space caters for this. Senses are stimulated with adaptive reuse everywhere, tactility abounds and solitude or collaboration is there for the taking. The spirit of the fitout moves and flows like their moods, enhanced by the play of natural light and the use of the familiar, the subtle and the flamboyant.
Believing that small details can make life memorable and inspiring, WBL’s work builds connection through celebrating life’s daily rituals, creating environments that are distinctive to people and place. This couldn’t be truer for their own studio. Not only a second home where the majority of their time is spent, it’s a space to be inspired, a space to be outgoing, a space to retreat, a space to collaborate, a space to ‘live life well’ and most importantly, a space to love.
1. “Architecture is definitely a political act.” – Peter Eisenman in Haaretz 2. “Architecture is unnecessarily difficult. It’s …