The Australian - Wish Magazine - - NEWS - STORY MI­LANDA ROUT

IT is the fu­ture of liv­ing in the sky. It is a pri­vate oa­sis in the mid­dle of the city. It is the home of Bruce Wayne perched on top of a bank, watch­ing over the busy streets as pedes­tri­ans bus­tle like ants, obliv­i­ous to what is above. How­ever you de­scribe the Syd­ney pen­t­house of prop­erty de­vel­oper John Boyd and his wife Marly, it is un­de­ni­ably ex­tra­or­di­nary. The three-level apart­ment has no equal in Aus­tralia. It sits on the top of the ANZ Tower on Castlereagh Street in Syd­ney, 43 storeys up, with 360-de­gree views. It’s a space that could have oth­er­wise ac­com­mo­dated four gen­er­ous apart­ments, and is the only res­i­dence in the award-win­ning com­mer­cial build­ing that Boyd de­vel­oped over a decade be­fore sell­ing the tower to Gro­con (and keeping the apart­ment).

“We have been talk­ing about Bat­man all through the de­sign process,” says in­te­rior ar­chi­tect Blainey North, who worked with the Boyds to cre­ate a home in the clouds from the chal­leng­ing and unique space. “When you drive into the base­ment, you come into your own pri­vate lift and ride up into your apart­ment above a bank, which has views all around the city. It is to­tally pri­vate, it’s to­tally se­cure and it’s kind of like this life in the sky in the mid­dle of the city.”

Ev­ery­thing in­side the home is cus­tom-made, from the 200-odd items of fur­ni­ture to the huge hand­made car­pet in the lounge area, to the black lac­quered tim­ber ban­nis­ters and the mar­ble bath­room fit­tings. It was all painstak­ingly hand­made and all had to be car­ried up in a sin­gle goods lift. The dwelling took four years to com­plete from de­sign to fitout. And find­ing the right in­te­rior ar­chi­tect to fin­ish the job, af­ter Richard Fran­cis Jones and his firm de­signed the com­mer­cial build­ing, proved to be a more chal­leng­ing task than the cou­ple had first an­tic­i­pated.

It took a spe­cial vi­sion to trans­form the bare con­crete shell at the top of an of­fice tower into a lux­u­ri­ous place to live, Marly Boyd says. “We had a few peo­ple look at it pre-Blainey and no­body could get their head around it – that prob­a­bly added to the de­lay,” she tells WISH on one of the many couches in the for­mal lounge, which has floor-to-ceil­ing views over the har­bour and right out to Bondi. “Peo­ple who have seen it be­fore­hand and now have seen it fin­ished, they can­not be­lieve it was the same place.”

North, who is Syd­ney-based, has done the in­te­ri­ors for pri­vate homes all over the world (in­clud­ing for Ni­cole Kid­man and Keith Ur­ban), of­fices (Rus­sell Crowe among oth­ers), five-star ho­tels (Crown Casino) and even events and award shows in the US. When John Boyd con­tacted her it was with the in­ten­tion of buy­ing some of her cus­tom-de­signed fur­ni­ture for the pen­t­house. But from the mo­ment North walked in, she fell in love with the cav­ernous space and the chal­lenge of turn­ing it into a home.

“I feel re­ally com­fort­able de­sign­ing this scale,” she says. “When I came into the main room, I thought ‘yes, I love this’. I feel great when I work in com­pli­cated spa­ces like this.” It didn’t take North long to con­vince John and Marly that she was the per­son to turn their dream into a re­al­ity. She saw that the pen­t­house needed some kind of ar­chi­tec­tural de­vice to link all the dif­fer­ent

“We have been talk­ing about Bat­man all through the de­sign process.”

“It has per­son­al­ity, it has home­li­ness, but it also pays great re­spect to the ar­chi­tec­ture.”

ge­ome­tries, heights, vol­umes, and sizes of the rooms. “The idea I tabled with them at [the first meet­ing] is that I felt there needed to be some sort of con­nect­ing [mo­tif] and so we de­vel­oped this idea of the black rib­bon. It out­lines and con­nects all of the dif­fer­ent lev­els and vol­umes to­gether in one seam­less line that al­lows your eye to fol­low from one area to an­other,” North ex­plains.

This black rib­bon – made of wood with six coats of lac­quer by spe­cial­ists who usu­ally make gui­tars – comes down from the ceil­ing, traces the win­dows, turns into the bar unit, be­comes the balustrade of the stair­case, and runs into the bed­rooms where it be­comes the bed­side ta­bles. It even runs up to the top floor, where there is a ca­bana, two out­door ter­races and a pool.

“Pre­vi­ous de­sign­ers were only able to chip it off room by room and that is where Blainey set her­self apart from the rest,” Marly says. “She had a much greater vi­sion for the apart­ment as a whole en­tity. And as you move around the apart­ment, you can feel that. It has per­son­al­ity, it has home­li­ness, but it also pays great re­spect to the ar­chi­tec­ture which was al­ways im­por­tant to us.”

The other chal­lenge for the for­mal lounge is that it can be seen from ev­ery level of the house and there­fore is viewed from many dif­fer­ent an­gles. So not only did North have to de­sign the area to look fab­u­lous and feel com­fort­able while you are ac­tu­ally in it but also be mind­ful of what it looks like from above. Key to this was di­vid­ing the area into sep­a­rate liv­ing and din­ing zones which were all con­nected by that in­cred­i­ble hand­made car­pet, which is 38m x 9m and cov­ers the en­tire area.

“It had to be de­signed like a giant art piece,” North says. “It is ac­tu­ally the big­gest rug in the south­ern hemi­sphere. We had to make it as one giant whole and they had to cut it ex­actly [into pieces]. Then they brought it in and they had to hand-sew it back to­gether so it was one piece. One of the most amaz­ing parts of the process was ac­tu­ally see­ing the car­pet when it was fin­ished in the ware­house – it had to go into a spe­cial ware­house to be made be­cause it was so big.”

Monochro­matic and art deco aes­thet­ics are ap­par­ent in the con­tem­po­rary in­te­ri­ors through­out the apart­ment. North cre­ated an art deco-themed study for John, com­plete with re­pur­posed vin­tage smok­ing chairs, cab­i­nets and other pieces he has col­lected over the years. His bath­room is also a trib­ute to the art deco pe­riod, all black mar­ble and an im­pres­sive steel bear statue to cen­tre it. Marly’s bath­room, on the other hand, is all about light. In the cor­ner of the build­ing with floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows, the bath­tub ar­guably has the best view in the pen­t­house, over­look­ing Hyde Park, the city and the har­bour. It is one of Marly’s favourite rooms.

The more re­laxed kitchen, din­ing and liv­ing ar­eas can also be turned into a “win­ter gar­den” by open­ing the lou­vres on the win­dows. There are four bed­rooms (in­clud­ing the mas­ter and nurs­ery for their young son), a gym and an in­ti­mate “cigar room”, for smaller din­ner par­ties, with an­tique French pan­elling on the walls.

And in a touch that sets the tone, vis­i­tors are greeted in the en­trance hall with a built-in floor-to-ceil­ing wine fridge full of the world’s best bub­bles. You will al­ways be of­fered a glass of cham­pagne, says Marly, smil­ing, when you visit the Boyds’ in­cred­i­ble home in the sky.


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