Discover the Story Behind Little Albion Guesthouse

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Recently featured in Augusts AAA Short Black: Architects In Their Space tour, Little Albion Guesthouse is one of Surry Hills newest offerings for the modern luxury traveller. Writer and AAA volunteer - Deborah Singerman, reports on on her conversation about the project with space planner and interior designer Connie Alessi, who was instrumental to the projects development and realisation.

Boutique inner-city guest house plucks at the heart strings

The Little Albion calls itself a guest house, not a hotel. This is entirely appropriate for a 35-room, pet friendly boutique place, a gratifying example of adaptive/reuse that both belies and yet builds on its chequered history including as a convent and a hospice. 

The transformation takes what one of the project’s mainsprings, interior designer and space planner Connie Alessi, remembers as being an architecturally “very run-down” building into a new realm of exquisite, bespoke comfort. 

I missed the AAA tour on August 18, 2018. The Sydney transport meltdown on that day meant I only travelled from my home in Ashfield as far as Petersham. However, I heard that the visit was a rip-roaring success, with a big group enjoying long chats with Alessi, architect Terence Yong and hotel manager Wendy Morris. My subsequent visits and the rave reviews from design websites confirmed this enthusiasm was justified.

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Paul Fischmann of 8Hotels brought together a unique mix of creatives, including Terence Yong (Terence Yong Architecture) and Chris Haughton (SHED) on the architecture, with Connie Alessi (Archemy) and Cressida Kennedy (Space Control) for the interiors.  Fischmann also wanted Wendy Morris, with whom he has worked before, in what became a tight-knit group.  

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Morris chose the Molton Brown handwashes, with their subtle fragrances, for the bathrooms, up from the lobby, and directed the range of Australian goodies for the Honour Bar. A rarity in Australia, its honesty-based system has guests write down the breakfast, nibbles and drinks that they have and only pay at the end of their stay. This typifies the level of trust, detail and intimacy that distinguishes this peaceful Surry Hills hideaway.

It also required imagination, research, exactitude and, yes that word, passion,

“The old building was gutted, leaving only the perimeter walls, and various heritage elements such as the fireplaces and the arches in the corridors,” says Alessi. “When you walk through on ground level that was a chapel, with two stories and beautiful stained-glass windows. These were removed. On level 3, the windows are new but do not look new because we dressed them in architraves.”
Everyone wanted brick as the main structural material, for its romance, helping to create the mood that filters through from the pathway up to the hotel, lined with variegated pot plants with a delicate Japanese maple in the corner, up to the fifth-floor roof garden. Getting the additional floors led to “a lot of ups and downs with council”, Alessi remembers, but the roof and the glass-sided lift to it afford an unlikely view of rooftops reminiscent of a historic European city. 

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In between, there are brass room numbers with their own Art Deco-related font, sumptuous leather armchairs in the sunken lounge, which was inspired by the Olivetti showroom in Italy, and a stylish pink banquette in the Honour Bar – pink and emerald feature throughout in upholstery, curtains and walls (even the dishwasher in the Bar is green). There are also marble bathrooms, polished concrete floors, and fabrics and other products from bespoke, specialist suppliers many with long histories in Sydney.

A wall of romantic poetry books, printed to look old with doodles for an appealing personal touch, is ingenious. It is part of an art program from Nick Samartis, that also covers stairwells and individual rooms with multifarious pictures including of historic Surry Hills identifies. Illustrations from Alexandra Nea on the website and the Surry Hills Neighbourhood Guide, pinpoint “culture, coffee/breakfast/light eats, dinner, drinks (and) shop”, in anticipation of urbane Australian, European and American guests.
“We all absolutely love it,” Alessi says.

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ABOUT DEBORAH SINGERMAN

AAA Volunteer Deborah Singerman is a writer and editor, with extensive experience interviewing people, researching stories, finding angles and then disseminating the information for different readerships.

She offer professional writing and editing services for articles with content that can be adapted for websites, blogs, magazines and university journals.

Check out her website at: https://www.deborahsingerman.com.au/

  • Article: Deborah Singerman
  • Image1: An exterior view of the new extension to original hospice building
  • Image 2: Connie Alessi principal of the design firm Archemy
  • Image 3: Terence Yong principal of Terence Yong Architecture (formerly project architect at Shed Design Studio) and Connie Alessi discuss the guest houses design with AAA Short Black attendees
  • Image 4: A view from the interior of the ground floor entry
  • Image 5: A view of an upper level lift lobby
  • Photographer: Vanessa Couzens

Explore Sydney Observatory With the AAA and MAAS

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Explore Sydney Observatory with Australian Architecture Association (AAA) and MAAS (the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences).

THE SYDNEY OBSERVATORY ARCHITECTURE TOUR

In association with MAAS (the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences) the AAA developed a special architectural tour of the Sydney Observatory in Millers Point, The Rocks.

Join volunteers from the AAA on an architectural tour of one of Sydney’s most significant historic sites.

Built in 1858, Sydney Observatory is one of the most significant sites in the nation’s scientific history. It is recognised as an item of ‘state significance’ by the New South Wales Government and is heritage listed.

Beginning as the centre of scientific research for the colony of New South Wales, the Observatory has a seminal role in the history of timekeeping, meteorology, navigation and astronomy in Australia.

Now known as Observatory Hill, the site was previously known as Windmill Hill, Citadel Hill, Fort Phillip and Flagstaff Hill. Each name indicates the site’s function over time, all of which relied on it being the highest point over Sydney Harbour.

The Observatory buildings, built from stone with distinctive copper telescope domes, were built between 1857 and 1859 in the Italianate style. They combined the practical needs of an observatory with those of an astronomer’s residence. The Observatory grounds recreate the original layout and vegetation of formal gardens cultivated in the 1880s.

TOUR DETAILS

Location: Sydney Observatory, 1003 Upper Fort St, Millers Point NSW
Time: 11.00am - 12.30pm
Date: Sunday 25 November 2018
Tickets: Adult $30 / Concession $25 / MAAS & AAA Members $25
Accessibility: Please note there is no wheelchair access to many of the Sydney Observatory spaces due to narrow and steep staircases in the heritage-listed buildings.  Strollers must be cloaked on arrival.

Don't miss out book now - click here.

  • Article: Vanessa Couzens
  • Image: The Sydney Design 2018 tour held in March (Photographer: Annette Dearing)

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Take A Walk Through Time With the AAA

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Over two hours discover two hundred years of Sydney’s built history on the Walk Through Time tour. Join an Australian Architecture Association trained tour guide on Saturday 13 October to discover how architecture has helped shape the landscape of the city.

Starting at one of the oldest remaining buildings of Sydney, Hyde Park Barracks, you will look at Sydney's humble start as a convict colony and how the architecture became more and more decorative during the Victorian period.

The 20th Century brought us influences from overseas such as Beaux-Arts, Art Deco and modernism.

We will show you post-war development of modernist thinking and the way post-modernism reacted against it.

By looking at Sydney Hilton and the Queen Victoria Building, you will discover how architects converted existing buildings and gave them a breath of new life.

Throughout the two hours, you will appreciate masterpieces of different architectural styles by different architects and witness how technological advances, economic and political forces shaped our city.

TOUR DETAILS

Location: Meet at Hyde Park Barracks, in front of the main gate, 12 Macquarie Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Time: 10.00am - 12.00pm
Date: Saturday 13 October 2018
Tickets: $30 (Public) / $25 (Senoirs & students) / AAA Members Free

Don’t miss out click here to secure your place on the tour.

Reward Yourself With Lego Architecture

This week we've added some new Lego Architecture rewards to entice architects, designers or the design enthusiast looking to indulge their inner child!

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This Lego Architecture model is in it's original sealed box and has never been assembled.

LEGO PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

Few one-room homes are as strikingly modern and instantly recognizable as the Farnsworth House™, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

This single-story steel structure with floor-to-ceiling glass walls was meant to open a minimalist interior to nature in an extreme way. Construction took place from 1945–1951 on a 60-acre estate beside the Fox River in Plano, Illinois, where it still stands today.

The assembled Farnsworth House model is over 11.9” (30.4cm) wide on a base with printed name label and includes a booklet with facts about the building, its construction and history.

  • Architectural replica of the real-world Farnsworth House™
  • Booklet included with details on design and history. (English language only)
  • Measures 2.6" (6.6cm) tall, 11.9" (30.4cm) wide and 6.7" (17.6cm) deep

Click here to visit the Keep Architecture Open 2018 donation page. Select the $300 Lego Architecture 21009 Farnsworth House reward by clicking on the box and then selecting the link to visit the payment page.

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This Lego Architecture model is in it's original sealed box and has never been assembled.

LEGO PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

Introducing the world-renowned Sydney Opera House™. This masterpiece of expressionist architecture is the vision of young Danish architect, Jørn Utzon, whose unique interlocking vaulted ‘shell’ design beat 933 competitors from 28 countries to win an international design competition held by the New South Wales government in 1959. Combined with the beautiful setting of Sydney Harbour, the opera house has become a true symbol of late modern architecture and one of the most iconic buildings of the 20th century.

This LEGO® Architecture series interpretation of the Sydney Opera House was designed by US architect Adam Reed Tucker in collaboration with the LEGO design team.

  • Interpretation of real-world architectural landmark Sydney Opera House™
  • Booklet included with details on design and history (English language only. Other languages available for download)
  • Collect the entire landmark series
  • LEGO® Architecture inspires future architects, engineers and designers as well as architecture fans around the world using the LEGO brick as a medium for reproducing esteemed structures
  • Measures 2.8” (7 cm) tall, 6.3” (16 cm) wide and 4.4” (11.2 cm) deep

Click here to visit the Keep Architecture Open 2018 donation page. Select the $250 Lego Architecture 21012 Sydney Opera House reward by clicking on the box and then selecting the link to visit the payment page.

3 Weeks To Go - Donate to the AAA

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The Australian Architecture Association aims to raise $15000 and needs your support. 

With only three weeks to go you won't want to miss out the great rewards on offer for donating to the Australian Architecture Association's annual 'Keep Architecture Open' operations fund raising campaign.

Click here, to visit our donation page and take your pick of rewards, including a weekend getaway, original art works, lego architecture, books, AAA memberships and continuing professional development talks.

We are looking to raise $15,000, which will be used to help us continue to deliver and develop our unique program of architectural walks, tours and events.

As a not-for-profit organisation we rely on your continuing support to help us provide unique opportunities to learn about architecture and the built environment and keep opening the doors on contemporary design.

We aren't just asking you to give away your money! Instead the AAA wants to reward you for your generous donation to our annual appeal. Each week of the campaign we have been adding new treats to tempt you!

Don't want to claim a reward? Just want to make a donation? Please follow the link below and donate as little as $20 to our campaign.

 

DONATE NOW

Don't forget to share this campaign with your friends/colleagues to help spread the word to donate.

Keep Architecture Open