LAVA Tivoli terrace OVERVIEW

A designer turns his attention to the intimate, the domestic and the small scale. A bare faced, four6metre6wide terrace on a 70 square metre block on a quiet street in inner city Sydney.

Project Team E LAVA
Chris Bosse Belinda Nadile Jiang Yang
Builder: Sam Graiche Redwood Constructions
Engineer: Harry Partridge
Painter: Antoine Chauvet
Photographer: Brett Boardman
Time schedule: Design: 1 week prior to and 3 months throughout construction; Construction 3 months
Site area: 70 sqm
Floor area: 110 sqm
Floors: engineered French oak boards from Alexandria Tiles, crafted by Footprint Floors
Doors: Western red cedar sliding doors with double glazing and low e6coating by Coolchange, brio tracks; Sliding screens: Western red cedar sliding by Coolchange, brio tracks
Kitchen Island: GRP and Bamboo, design LAVA Chris Bosse
Fireplace: modified Jetmaster with LAVA trim splashback glass
Joinery: laminated European plywood, Joiner: Kenny Keussen, Itsdesign
Lights: Knoll Poulsen Ph5; Axolight KArim Rashid NAfir, white and gold; Mondoluce, David Truebridge, bamboo, KINA, orange green and natural; kitchen light up/downlight LED, laminated Plywood, design LAVA Chris Bosse
Kitchen: SMEG, Marc Newson; Benchtop Corian
Bathroom elements: Vitra Istanbul range Ross Lovegrove , Taps Rogerseller. Tiles 10×10 mosaic Vitra from Alexandria Tiles
Furniture: Ligne Roset, Togo 3 seater 2 seater single seater and pedestal Green and orange and white; Schlangentisch (German designer); B&B Italia: Metropol seats; B&B Italia George sofa Anotnio Citterio; Sean Dixon table oak with glass top; Arne Jacobsen Chairs
Shoerack: Australian hardwood, design LAVA Chris Bosse

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Richard Paul Lohse Modulare und Serielle Ordnungen 1973; Terracotta dog, Vietnamese ceramics; Jade dogs, Taiwan

When Chris Bosse of international architects LAVA bought this small terrace in Paddington it’s 80s makeover was evident 6 internal walls had been removed, two Greek columns and an arch separated the living rooms, terracotta kitchen tiles and exposed clinker bricks were the ‘highlights’. It was perfectly liveable but….

Chris and his partner had inherited a dog and needed to leave their Norman Foster apartment in the city because it didn’t have any outdoor space.

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Chris had just returned from a motorcycle tour of Tuscany. When he saw the little sunny courtyard surrounded by brick walls it immediately appealed to him.

The first thing he did was put down wide timber flooring over the old floor boards and terracotta tiles, the alignment streamlining the dining, living and kitchen areas into one continuous space creating the sense of even more area in the process. This avoided costly repair or removal of the old flooring, and dealt with the different floor surfaces, tiles and timber. Technically it wasn’t the first thing, but maybe the first strategy: Cover all floors with timber, inside and outside.

He also wanted to open up the courtyard to extend the living area so he added sliding screens for shading and privacy, light and air. He screened the staircase 6 to create storage as well as acting as a balustrade and light feature; took out the mini bedroom, and turned it into a generous lounge room with fireplace, bamboo light and seventies lounges; kept existing features such as fireplaces and cornices to merge with contemporary elements.

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He created storage along every possible surface 6 floor to ceiling shelves in the dining/living area, some open to display treasured possessions, create a harmonious streamlined provision of storage, so necessary in a small terrace.

A new kitchen is the centre of everything. It features a custom6made island bench that really is island6shaped, a full height pantry, a white glass splash back to reflect the light and make space bigger, four metre long Corian bench, white laminated solid plywood kept the cool, pale aesthetic. The traditional stepped geometry of fridge, oven, cupboards and range hood was realigned into one line to create a streamlined look.

Upstairs a small room has been turned into a 2nd living zone for TV and relaxing whilst main and second bedrooms feature built6ins.

Iconic mid century furniture and contemporary designer lighting add 21st c cool to the space.

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Despite the small scale Bosse found the whole process very interesting.  He  views a house like a city: “The challenge was working out how to translate design principles on a small6scale, on a domestic budget within a heritage structure. Its about compact inner city living.”

“The best thing about the design for us is the indoor/outdoor works well for entertaining, there is more light, more space and every surface is a design element making a statement, and has more than one function – e.g. the decorative screen on the stairs is also a balustrade and a privacy screen.

Materialty is kept pale with natural wood, neutral colours.

Bosse also liked the process of moving – “I like it when you move and get rid of a lot of stuff. It helped me rationalise my possessions – if I hadn’t worn something for two years it was given away to charity.”


Very tight site of 70 sq m required Bosse to maximise the spaces, to use every bit for every day living, with no unused spaces. The existing footprint was maintained.

“Usually terrace houses are a long plan ending in a courtyard not connected but this site is triangular L shaped which meant the courtyard is actually adjacent to the kitchen.” At the heart of the plan is bringing the outdoor in, the concept of a borrowed landscape.

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Bosse had just returned from an Italian holiday and thought the little courtyard had an Italian feel about it. “I like the old bricks, the old arch which was originally a doorway and bricked in at some stage.”

The entire space was reconfigured by opening it up with sliding doors and custom made screens that disappear magically to achieve a level indoor/outdoor transition. Timber screens give endless variations of shading and privacy and reconfigure spaces.


He redesigned the 1980s terracotta style kitchen with a new four6metre long bench, with extra deep drawers, with appliances by Smeg. A glass splashback is luminous, light reflects on it, which continues onto the concealed glass door to bathroom and laundry.

“What I hate in kitchens is you have four different geometries happening: fridge, rangehood, benchtop and cupboards, everything has a different height and depth. So we made it all one depth, in elevation an L shaped bench and fridge/pantry and a floating cupboard.”

The kitchen island is shaped like an island and made by a manufacturer who Bosse met in China when he was designing the Future Home project.

Powerpoints in the kitchen are mounted under the cupboards like in a laboratory.

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The small space features Ross Lovegrove minimal organic elements, mirror glass, Roger Seller taps and Vitra white mosaic tiles. Bosse collected things he liked along the way, for example he met British designer Ross Lovegrove at the opening of the Guangzhou opera house ZAHA party and loves his Istanbul range for Vitra. And he chose German joiner Kenny Keussen from Itsdesign whom he had met at an entrepreneurs talk in Manly because he ‘understood my design sensibility’.


Lighting is very important part of the project. And every light has a story.

Bosse chose Danish designer Louis Poulsen’s light over the dining room table (he grew up with one at his parents place) and designer David Truebridge’s lights, with their natural and repetitive patterns of bamboo strips in LAVA green and orange. “I met him in Berlin at airport Tempelhof Design Show and thought we shared a lot of inspiration.”

He met Karim Rashid in an airport taxi and told him he loved his lights and four weeks later had a call from his manufacturer in Venice to send him the lights, called NAfir, shaped like trumpets or flowers. Karim selected the white with gold inside. “They reflect the dining table beautifully, a modern chandelier.”

For the kitchen Bosse designed an LED uplight covered with laser cut plywood ribs that transformed it into a cloud – “I wanted a LAVA element in the house”.

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Bosse is not a fan of fake furniture so he bought second hand originals on ebay 6 designer furniture pieces such as a Hong Kong6based Shaun Dix table, original 50s Arne Jacobsen chairs, and B&B Italia lounge chairs and French designer furniture by Ligne Roset TOGO 1973 in LAVA green and orange and a Knut Hesterberg “Schlangentisch” Snake coffee table from the 1960s.

A shoe rack was made from leftover timber of the staircase – “Where do you put your shoes and bags and umbrellas” – turning it into an artwork and light feature.

A jetmaster fireplace features a glass trim, “so it looks like an ipod”. A sound system was integrated throughout every room, “that wakes you with your favourite tunes every morning and suggests new ones”.


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