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Developing the domestic

Indesign Magazine
Issue 43, 19 November 2010

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A residential approach ensures developers, SC Land, are at home in their new office, by Stephen Crafti

SC Land is not your typical developer keen to minimize site coverage and number of units. Like their offices in Toorak Road, South Yarra, the emphasis at SC Land is on quality and getting things exactly right. “We’re focused on boutique apartment developments and we’re interested in working with Melbourne’s finest architects,” says Lance Chu, who operates SC Land with his partner, Chenghan Tan.

Since establishing their business in 2000, Chu and Tan have received numerous awards for both their Cygne apartments, on Perth’s Swan River, and Hue apartments in Richmond, Melbourne, designed by Jackson Clements Burrows Architects (JCB).

Chu trained as an architect at Harvard, and drew on this and his experience as a developer when briefing BURO Architecture + Interiors for the SC Land office. The brief was for an office with a sense of luxury and a residential aesthetic, not dissimilar to the boutique apartments SC Land are recognised for. “Chenghan and I weren’t thinking of gold taps. It was more to do with the luxury of the space and the quality of the light,” says Chu. The number of SC Land staff is only six but it can be hectic at times, and so the brief to BURO was also to create a calm and serene ambience. “It’s important that our work spaces are as comfortable as our homes.”

“Lance and Chenghan were extremely conscious of their offices reflecting what they produce in the market place. They didn’t want just another office, but something more bespoke,” says Glen Chamberlain, Director of BURO. “Lance is also extremely ordered; planning is one of their company’s strengths.”

SC Land’s two-level offices are nestled behind a heritage-listed Victorian façade. Rather than draw attention to the new structure, a black stained timber façade is recessed from the thoroughfare. At the top of the stairs, the office unfolds, with stained timber used to clad the façade from within the office. “We treated it as a box within a box, ensuring sufficient light filtered into the core,” says Chamberlain.

Like the spaces, which are pared back, the palette of materials used by BURO is sparing. American Oak was used for the floor, staircases and joinery. “Everything else is more or less black and white,” says Chamberlain, who was keen to focus on the form and play of light, rather than distract with fussy finishes. “It was important to look at the spaces and how they unfold, rather than adding superfluous detail.”

At the first level of the SC Land office is a reception and boardroom. With four-and-a-half metre high ceilings, the boardroom features an unusual American Oak light fitting. Extending across almost the entire boardroom table, it could be considered ‘the cone of silence’ (think 1960’s television series Get Smart). It was designed to create a more intimate focus, but originally unnerved both directors. “It was only when the table arrived that the concept was fully understood,” says Chamberlain.

The kitchen, located between the boardroom and open plan offices, is a departure from many break-out areas. Featuring black marble bench tops and black 2-pack joinery, the kitchen centres around a limed Oak bench-style table. “It’s not quite the office or kitchen you’d find in one of our apartments. It’s more a hybrid of the two,” says Chu, but like many contemporary commercial spaces, the boundaries are blurred.

Open plan offices are located at the southern end of the building and divided by bespoke metal screens, and for increased privacy, there are three enclosed glass offices. Although these offices, including a second enclosed meeting area, are internalized, BURO created additional light by inserting skylights around the ‘black box’. “We wanted to get as much light into the building as possible, without creating blinding shafts of light,” says Chamberlain.

An American Oak timber staircase leads to the two directors’ offices, both with a balcony. Orientated to the west and with limited space for a verdant garden, SC Land commissioned landscape architect Jim Sinatra of Sinatra Murphy to conceive a low-maintenance yet green aspect. Yellow planters extend across the terrace, planted with manicured box hedges loosely shaped in the form of a dragon.

As impressive are the finishes in both directors’ offices, complete with chunky American Oak shelves and deep comfortable lounges, these offices could easily be found in a home. “We regularly work late, so it was important that we didn’t feel too far from home,” says Chu. And to create a more domestic feel in the office, SC Land have a number of artworks on display, including Judy Holding’s yellow steel tree sculpture, Yirridja Owns Yellow, at reception, and paintings by Tony Clark and Matthew Johnson. “Art and architecture are intrinsically linked,” says Chu. “Ultimately, both enrich your life.”

“Lance is a perfectionist,” says Chamberlain, and this is a quality clearly reflected in both the projects SC Land develop and their new office. “Lance has an eye for detail. He’ll pursue something relentlessly until it’s fully resolved.”

Stephen Crafti is Indesign’s Melbourne correspondent.

ARCHITECT BURO Architecture + Interiors
BUILDER Kubic (Robert Heggie and Joseph Princi)
PROJECT MANAGER P.A.C. Construction Consultants (Peter Clack)
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER Wood and Grieve  Engineers (Mario Darmanin)
BUILDING SURVEYOR Davis Langdon (Alex Kelpezidis)
MECHANICAL ENGINEER Wood and Grieve Engineers (Grant Holman

TIME TO COMPLETE 12 months (construction)


FURNITURE In reception, Alex Earl custom Log stool and black mesh chairs from Poliform. In kitchen, ClassiCon ‘Triton’ stool in black from Anibou. In boardroom, Eames Aluminium Group side chairs and elliptical table from Living Edge. In offices, Herman Miller Eames plastic chairs with Eiffel base and Aeron work chair both from Living Edge, and Formway ‘Traffic’ desks from Zenith. In open plan office, Formway ‘HUM’ workstations, ‘Traffic’ and ‘Tambour’ storage pedestals also from Zenith. In Director’s office (Chenghan Tan) Moroso ‘Shanghai Tip sofa, side table and steel table, ‘Glove’ chairs, ‘Fjord’ foot stools and ‘Bloomy’ chair, and Viccarbe ‘Aspa’ meeting table, all available from Hub Furniture, and Fat File pedestal by join. In Director’s office (Lance Chu), ‘Albert’ sofas from Jardan, ‘Fat File’ pedestals by join, Viccarbe Window coat hanger available from Hub Furniture, and Aluminium Group side chair and Eames elliptical table both from Living Edge. On executive balcony ‘Jil’ table and ‘Jak’ high back chair, both from Tait Outdoor.

FINISHES External cladding is Spotted Gum ‘Expression Cladding’ stained black from Woodform Architectural, Metal deck roof is Stramit ‘CapacityPLUS’ in Colorbond Night Sky Window and skylight glazing is ‘Amour float’ toughened safety glass, and external glazing is ‘Solar F Plus’ laminated glass, both from Viridian. In Directors’ offices, Unisystems motorized roller blinds from Lidi. On executive balcony, Unicom motorized awnings from Issey. In bathrooms, ‘Oleandro’ tiles from Bisazza, white tiles from Classic Ceramics. Generally throughout, floors are honed and polished concrete and Royal Oak timber floorboards from Harper and Sandilands, carpet is ‘Ultra Plush II Blackout’ in black from George Low. Laminates  from Laminex, stone is Arabascato with grey veins from De Fazio, and Shanxi and Bluestone from Apex Stone veneer from New Age Veneers, and paint from Dulux.

LIGHTING External wall mounted lights are Deltalight ‘Mono Down-Up’ from INLITE. In entry foyer, ‘Ghost Story’ pendant available from Mance Design. In reception desk, ‘Wyn Trimless System’ recessed LED strip light from Darcon. In bathroom and meeting room, ‘Ballboy’ pendant light with bright nickel finish by Dean Phillips. In kitchen and corridor, Deltalight ‘Nobody300’ suspended light from INLITE. In bathrooms, Flos ‘Romeo Babe Soft’ with pleated fabric shade from Euroluce. In offices, ‘Tolomeo’ desk lighting from Artemide. Generally throughout, ‘Deeper Down’ recessed downlights, and ‘Light Module’ fluorescent lights from Darcon. Golex multiple LED light module from Gamma Illumination, and surface mounted wall lights from INLITE.

FIXED and FITTED In kitchen, Franke ‘Kubic’ sink from Mary Knoll, Gaggenau glass ceramic cooktop, electric oven and microwave oven, all from Sampford and Staff, rangehood from Qasair, and bins from Hafele. Generally throughout, basins, toilets, tapware and sanitary accessories from Rogerseller and Caroma, and in-wall mixers from Accent Tapware.

ARTWORK In reception, Yirridja Owns Yellow, Judy Holding. On mezzanine landing, Section from Clark’s Mynorama, Tony Clark (2008-2009), acrylic and permanent marker on canvas. In Directors’ offices, Obsolete Plant, Richard Giblett, (2008), gouache on paper. Another Ground 1 and Going, Mira Gojak, (2009), pen, texta, gouache, and watercolour on paper. In meeting room, Realm Rotation, Matthew Johnson (represented by Tim Olsen Gallery), oil on canvas.

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