Madeleine Blanchfield Architects

“A stage space has two rules: (1) Anything can happen and (2) Something must happen.” (Peter Brook, “The Empty Space”).

Vessel is a Victorian Terrace situated in a quiet enclave amidst Darlinghurst’s vibrant, urban suburb. This house, for a professional couple, was to be an urban oasis and to house the many facets of private life within the existing rooms and a new rear extension.

The home crosses between being a monastic sanctuary, inspired by the orderly, meticulous nature of the client, and a transformative space to come alive with music and social gatherings. The philosophy for the project was to design a bare stage for life’s theatre to fill and empty. The space should hold the peaceful privacy of a professional couple’s life with a readiness for the switch into festivity and celebration.

The design process involved an exceptional level of collaborative planning for what lies behind the scene of each room – everything personal was considered early in the process so it could have its own designated, often concealed place. This, along with the building form, means the new addition operates as a seemingly emptied out vessel. The core idea was to design with a respect for empty space.


Furniture: Kitchen, Cursa lounge Chair, Spence & Lyda. Kitchen, Backenzahn stool by David Chipperfield for E15, Living Edge. Main bedroom, Costello chair designed by Martin Eisler, Tacchini. Guest bedroom, vintage ladder chair. Lighting: Upstairs Living Room, Viabizzuno- Coppibartali Chandelier, Viabizzuno. Dining room, Waterford crystal 9 arm chandelier, family heirloom. Ground Floor Living Room, Waterford crystal 9 arm chandelier, family heirloom. Kitchen above island, custom pendant, Est Lighting. Most of lighting throughout is by Viabizzuno. Finishes: Kitchen walls, floor and ceiling, Krause Bricks – mixture of standard and Emperor lengths in phoenix colour, Krause, Kitchen, Artetech Ombre Carbone tile, Artedomus. Kitchen joinery, black stained American Oak, supplied by joiners. New fireplace surrounds and select vanity units, carrara marble honed, Skheme. Fittings & Fixtures: Kitchen and Bathrooms, Vola and Brodware, Candana. Main bathroom, Stand Bath by Norm Architects, Candana.


Photography: Tom Ferguson
Stylist: Jack Milenkovic Atelier Lab