About

Supercontext is an architecture practice based in Sydney. So we are sometimes also called Supercontext Architecture Studio, Sydney. Which is abbreviated as SASSY.

We don’t like –

Instagram, but in the sort of Stockholm syndrome way?; Facebook much, either; Anything you saw on “the Block”, “Renovation Rescue” and above all “House Rules”; Failing; Succeeding; Being judged; Most architects – except you?

We are interested in and sometimes like;

Complex problems with imperfect solutions; Humour; Being unseriously serious about how seriously we take our work, but being not too serious about ourselves?; The rough unfinished over asphyxiated perfection; Big words; Texture, colour, depth, confusion instead of white, more white, gloss white, brass and ‘clarity’; Coffee; Hypocrisy and inconsistency, so ignore all of the above;

Team

  • Alexander Jones
  • Amelia Devaux
  • Andrew Daly (NSW Architect #9300)
  • Colette Hortle
  • Janelle Woo

Studio

Level 1, 117 Reservoir St, Surry Hills

Contact

Monday – Friday
9am – 6pm

Ph +61 2 8005 2534
studio@supercontext.studio
www.supercontext.studio

Instagram: @supercontext
Facebook: @supercontextarchitecture

Employment

Employment opportunities will be posted on this website when positions are open. Please email your (small) CV/resume and portfolios to studio@supercontext.studio

Please note that we do not support unpaid internship positions.

Lilyfield House

residential

Lilyfield House

A commission for a single-family home in a dense, city-fringe Sydney suburb. The ongoing urban consolidation in Sydney has substantially challenged the notion of the single-family home with an increasing number of apartments being built and the increasing un-affordability of homes within easy commute to the city continuing to put pressure on these inner-city suburbs to accommodate more on smaller blocks. Often in historically significant areas building in these suburbs has becoming increasingly challenging but has produced interesting architectural responses and an increased recognition of the importance of local knowledge in the design of new interventions into these areas.

Sharing with our clients an interest in contemporary timber building, this house is designed to connect inside and outside through timber screens, verandas and cantilevering eaves that explore contemporary timber building through both traditional timber techniques and contemporary composite timber technology. The rear of the house, facing north-east and benefitting from Sydney’s benevolent climate and cooling, summer breezes, is designed to open to the backyard and extend the living spaces into the compact but all-important backyard landscape.

The two-storey house has several voids connecting downstairs with upstairs, promoting natural ventilation and cooling through passive design principles, minimizing the reliance on assisted cooling on all but the warmest summer days.

A trip down memory lane

22-04-2017

A trip down memory lane

Our first studio at the now demolished (then empty) 383 George St in the centre of Sydney. Scheduled for demolition, we were the only inhabitants of this 8 storey office building right in the centre of Sydney, opposite the iconic “Strand Arcade”. The studio was shared with a number of young creatives all starting to do things ‘our way’.

After being shortlisted in mid-2014 in a major urban renewal competition (Green Square Aquatic Centre + Gunyama Park), in collaboration with Kevin Liu we formed “TYP-TOP Architecture Office” and took our second studio space (1 of three we would inhabit) at the GAFFA Artist’s precinct on Clarence St in Sydney. Collaborators were Shuang West and Wenray Wang in this little space – just enough for the four of us to get through a 3 month 2nd stage of the competition.

After 6 months we moved downstairs in GAFFA, to the ground floor arcade. With 2 full-height shopfront windows into our office, we were always on display and people could see the day-to-day of a small architecture office. These rooms had brick-arch ceilings and were originally police lock-up cells, with the original building a state-heritage listed police station. Ben Li worked with us in this space on a number of commissions and competitions (Bamiyan Cultural Centre)

Still in the GAFFA building, we moved out to the street-front behind a huge arched window into TYP-TOP’s last office space. Again on display to the passersby of Clarence St, we were joined by Leanne Noh and Angela Kurmann, working on projects and commissions and having coffee delivered (dangerously) to our desk by the neighbouring cafe. We built a mezzanine to access a tall library wall.

In 2016 after an 18-month partnership with Kevin Liu, TYP-TOP Architecture Office disbanded. We moved into a shared office space with SCALE Architecture (www.scalearchitecture.com) and became SUPERCONTEXT. We were joined by Leanne Noh, Colette Hortle, Alexander Jones and Amelie Devaux.

After 1 year in the Oxford St shared space, in 2017 we’ve relocated to 117 Reservoir St, Surry Hills, a space with the opportunity to support our growing practice as we look for new projects and opportunities.

Balgowlah Zone Substation Early Learning Centre

education + heritage

Balgowlah Zone Substation Early Learning Centre

SUPERCONTEXT were engaged in January 2016 to design the adaptive reuse of a state-heritage listed electricity substation into an early learning/long day care centre. Sitting on a prominent corner in a residential neighbourhood, the 1928 brick building supplied surrounding suburbs until 2014 when it was decommissioned, remediated and subsequently sold by the electricity provider, Ausgrid. We were involved to develop feasibility and conceptual approaches to the site to understand its capacity for reuse and development, to retain and conserve the significant industrial heritage fabric and extend the premises into a unique educational premise. After almost a year negotiating the project through approvals at both local council, state planning panel and state heritage level, we secured an approval and the project is due to commence on site in the third quarter of 2017.

The existing heritage core consists of two principle halls – the triple-height ‘handling bay’, and the double-height ‘switch-room’ – that sit at the boundary of the site along two street frontages. Additional transformer bays were subsequently added to the rear of the site and considered of lesser heritage significance are to be demolished, bricks recycled and usage in the maintenance and restoration of the most significant heritage structures. In the location of these original halls, an extension of approximately 800m2 will house classrooms, indoor/outdoor playspaces and amenities for the centre.

‘MORELLA’, 5 Morella Rd, Mosman

heritage + residential

‘MORELLA’, 5 Morella Rd, Mosman

We were engaged by a group interested in restoring a now dilapidated, once grand, harbour-side mansion in Sydney’s prestigious residential enclave of Clifton Gardens. The house was originally designed by E.M.Nicholls, Walter Burley-Griffin’s protege and later business partner and a link in the Frank-Lloyd Wright architectural lineage in Australia’s early 20th century development. Built in the 1940s, ‘Morella’ was designed and constructed for a prominent family, the Parer family, and remained largely unaltered until the house was abandoned in the 1990s. Empty for almost 20 years, the house is almost at the point of no-return with significant structural defects from years of neglect.

Our brief was to develop concepts to restore the existing, almost defunct and borderline collapsing existing brick house, and suggest suitable ways and strategies to extend the existing house through contemporary additions to bring the house up to contemporary standards. In this sense we conceptualised our architecture as needing to take a secondary, facilitating role: by increasing the size of the house suitable to command a substantial sale price, a significant piece of Australian and Sydney’s residential architecture would be retained for future generations. In this sense, we suggested that our architecture should be as voiceless as possible – a diagram of captured space that did its best to disappear behind the strong architectural language of ‘Morella’.

We focused on developing a strategic approach to the site over an individualistic architectural statement that would risk imposing our own architectural expression on the existing house. We worked closely with the client to put in place a restoration methodology for the existing house and prepare concept designs for a site wide refurbishment including pool, landscaping, garages and a new indoor-outdoor extension to expand the house into a unique, unrepeatable home marrying a significant piece of our city’s architectural history with a plan for its ongoing future.

After several months, the property was sold at public auction to an international buyer. Unaware of the house’s significance the successful bidders have no intention to retain the house despite its heritage listing, and did not accept our offer to further discuss our strategy for the site. The house remains empty and abandoned while moves towards its demolition continue.

Frankston Station Precinct Competition

competition + public-cultural

Frankston Station Precinct Competition

We conceptualise Frankston Central as a linear public space echoing that most iconic of Australian public spaces – the beach – where people connect along its length and across the thin stretch of common ground that sits between city and surf. Whilst Frankston is reknown for its beach, the station precinct sits at the intersection of a potentially rich urban fabric, knitting together parallel and perpendicular connections between the town’s cultural landscapes and the beach itself. The success of the station precinct is as much in an iconic building as it is in the station’s capacity to reinforce outward connections to cultural, recreational and commercial networks and make legible Frankston’s structure and place.

For us, the principal issue facing the masterplan and the station precinct is its capacity to establish tendrils outwards that support diverse cultural practices and encourage interaction with the city, beyond journey between beach and station. Frankston has the potential for a strong, rich urban lifestyle that echoes Melbourne’s envious position as Australia’s capital of urban chic. Our proposal suggest a number of strategies that could be implemented at the city scale beyond that of a ‘masterplan’, as well as suggesting the beginning moves of a station design that could produce a renewed interest in the potentials of Frankston’s urban fabric by sitting at the centre of a broader network of art interventions and pocket landscapes.

Arriving by train and the walk to the beach form part of the memory, identity and structure of the sea-side towns. Recurring patterns of parallel and perpendicular bands define a particular and identifable urban structure: parallel spaces connecting non-beach focused recreational and cultural places, while perpendicular boulevards and retail strips connect the beach and the station – we’ve identifed this structure in Frankston, Brighton (UK), Manly (AU), Bondi (AU), Cannes (FRA) among others.

To reinforce cultural connection throughout Frankson, and particularly to assist in wayfinding between key cultural elements of the city, we propose the establishment of a network of art objects at important nodes, and as wayfinding devices through the key axes of the city. These could be sculptures, grafitti art or applied to ‘blank-walls’ in the urban environment. Taking inspiration from Brighton (UK) where the beach-side satelitte city has established a strong, unique artistic identity through art programs, we suggest that Frankston could encourage the exploration of its unique identity through a programme that extends through its principal urban centres. The program is essentially infinitely expandable – new ‘moments’ being introduced as and when required to create new links between parts of the city.

Day St Roof Terrace Construction Progress

01-01-2017

Day St Roof Terrace Construction Progress

Our roof terrace alterations and additions in Day St, Darling Harbour are under construction. The new roof terrace will be a breakout space for the building’s occupants. Our works involve new cladding and skin for an existing pergola structure, new planter boxes, seating areas, privacy screening and a new outdoor seminar room on an upper terrace. Stay tuned!

Nusa Ceningan Resort (Bali), Indonesia

public-cultural

Nusa Ceningan Resort (Bali), Indonesia

Developed for a Hong Kong-based hospitality enterprise, we proposed concepts for a mid-market resort on Nusa Ceningan, a small island off Bali, Indonesia. Linked to Bali itself first by boat trip, then by a single suspension bridge between the larger Nusa Lembongan, Ceningan is a hot, dry and less-traveled corner of Bali province. Our proposal was to carefully settle a long, rectangular envelope into the steep terrain and to wrap the interior spaces in a varied bamboo screen, allowing breezes to ventilate while shading the interiors from the harsh sun. Nestled in the landscape to focus on wide, expansive views across a straight to Nusa Penida beyond, the envelope was to be camouflaged by its brown, bamboo outer skin sitting in Nusa Ceningan’s browner, scrubbier vegetation and rocky landscape. A recurring technique in our projects, through this camouflage we sought to minimise visual impact of the resort on its landscape and allow the architecture itself to sit behind the experience of the island. On approach to the resort, the bamboo screen would be revealed to be perforated and operable, producing a variety of visual and textural effects through different weaves, sizes and spacing that related to the level of privacy that the rooms behind required.

Inside the bamboo screen-wrapped envelope, this main building and first stage of the development was to house communal rooms including bar, restauraunt, pool and multi-function hall/room inside the timber and bamboo structure. The repeated, modular structure could subsequently be expanded to accommodate further stages of the resort. Individual accommodation rooms were proposed as free-standing ‘pods’ scattered throughout the bamboo envelope, proposing an alternative to the de-centralized planning of the Balinese village often appropriated in resort design.

We proposed that by scattering free-standing pods inside a structure that was architecturally unified would produce a unique hospitality offering. Further, through conceiving of the circulation spaces as a series of interconnected communal rooms for informal use by the patrons, we sought to blur the boundaries between often insular resort-retreats and the opportunity for communal and informal interactions outside the privacy of individual rooms. By penetrating the long, consistent roof with a series of skylights, lightwells, impluviums/wells and courtyards, we proposed a varied spatial experience wherein the relationship between outside and inside was eroded, while the unifying screen element provided privacy and security to patrons.

After our initial concepts were submitted, the only suspension bridge link between Nusa Ceningan and the larger Nusa Lembongan island (and from there to Bali) collapsed during a Hindu festival due to lack of ongoing maintenance. Several lives were lost in the collapse. The project has subsequently been put on permanent hiatus.

New London Housing Competition

competition + residential

New London Housing Competition

New London Housing Competition

This competition was organized by New London Architecture, to generate ideas for housing a future London – a city already devouring itself in search of space for an ever-growing population. We see an unavoidable future London with little reliance on private car travel. Future political and planning disincentives such as congestion charges, the volatility of oil supply, communal car ownership along with taxes and environmental restrictions, put a used-by date on the future of a car-dominated London. This is an opportunity for us to reshape the London environment: What could we do with all these car parks?

With the trend of car use steadily decreasing, we will soon reach a tipping point where the once-common London multi-storey car park will no longer be financially viable. Located in desirable, inner city areas, close to retail, commercial and cultural uses, we propose that these car parks form the basis of a valuable and reusable model for the conversion of inner-city car parks to a mixed used community focused development.

We proposed a typological investigation and reuse of car parks throughout inner London, coupled with a proposed funding model that was based on an old-fashioned ‘building society’, where a group of home-buyers came together and pooled their resources to aid them in providing homes for themselves and other memebers of the society. We also explored the possibility for Real Estate Investment Trusts, or REITs, to own and operate housing precincts/developments for the benefits of their shareholders, with the long term, low-yield of these investments out-weighing the short term, ‘flip-it’ mentality currently surrounding housing development.

This project was a collaboration with Oliver Du Puy Architects from Melbourne, Australia and Kevin Liu.

Alvar Aalto Museum Extension Competition

competition + public-cultural

Alvar Aalto Museum Extension Competition

Alvar Aalto Extension

Our proposal imagines a connective building that is spatially, tectonically and materially a blend between two significant works of Aalto’s oeuvre – an exercise in connection and continuity. The project is a piece of connective tissue, mediating east-west between the city and our proposed garden, and north-south between the bulk and mass of the existing museums. We propose a playful moderation of scale and rhythm of the extension’s facade, a spatial continuity through a continuous foor plate blending stair, terraces, workstations, ramp and seating. Material qualities are articulated through a timber lattice beam ceiling structure with diffuse skylight.

The lattice structure is inserted between the two museums, generated by extrapolating and extending the structural grids of the museums and superimposing these grids over each other to produce a multi-layered structure. The extension maintains tectonic, spatial and interior continuity with both museums−an in-between building generated by material and spatial relationships extracted from within its context.

The lattice structure and ceiling showcases Finland’s historical and contemporary skill with timber. Reminiscent of laminated boat structures, the roof utilizes laminated timber technology and floats above the floor plate, tiered shop and workstations, gently diffusing daylight into the space through its ceiling. In the winter, the extension will softly glow from the suspended canopy of pendant lights, a welcoming place in the spirit of Finnish hospitality and openness.

 

The tiered spaces function either as a shared retail space, or can be converted to also be used as either additional exhibition area or as a primary entertainment space for the two museums. When configured for an exhibition, our proposal encourages the curatorial diffusion of the two museums to encourage an expanded program of Finnish and international cultural material.

A collaboration with Kevin Liu.

House of Hungarian Music Competition

competition + public-cultural

House of Hungarian Music Competition

In 2014 the Hungarian government proposed an ambitious urban renewal program in ‘City Park’ (Varosliget) in Budapest. The park – somewhat dilapidated but centred around a historic castle – was to be the site of 5 state musuems dedicated to Hungary’s history in the arts and cultural history. Each of the five museums was opened to international, anonymous competition.

Our proposal for the Hungarian House of Music explored notions of architecture as theatre, and architecture as stage itself; we proposed a simple envelope defined by three stacked volumes that could open up its ground floor interface with the park on 3 of 4 facades, to promote the capacity for music festivals and events. To move away from the museum as monolith, the ground floor facade along these elevations was designed to be highly-operable, with lift up, tilt up, sliding and folding panels that would allow the cafe, lobby and principal auditorium become rooms as extension of the park.

The necessarily insular functions of the brief – offices, climate controlled exhibition spaces and archiving rooms were vertically stacked in the central tower, connecting these spaces to the parkland through elevated vistas of the trees and of the park’s historic castle. Each faced was considered as a screen, or a like a stage-scene in a Proscenium arch theatre; a series of layers who’s operation changed with the daily operation of the museum to create a rhythm and representation of the building’s daily rituals.

Our proposal was not judged, but was disqualified on arrival due to incorrect identification of the posted package. Complex postage requirements relating to the anonymity of competitions – involving one envelope inside another, addressed to one location that would then be opened before being forwarded to the second location – that were changed multiple times during the competition and our incorrect interpretation of these instructions led to our proposal being considered ineligible.

Several months later, the government declared the results of several of the competitions – particularly for the central pieces of the museum precinct, the contemporary art museum – to be unsatisfactory and commissioned a who’s-who of international architects to compete for the 40,000m2 complex, questioning the validity of open-competitions in an increasingly globalized world of competitive architecture.

Ryde Civic Centre Competition

competition + public-cultural

Ryde Civic Centre Competition

Ryde Civic Centre Competition

The RCC is a place of connection, of exchange, of transparency and the social centre of a dense, contemporary urban community. Ryde is a diverse part of a diversifying city – a cultural melange where traditional values of city making and new cultural influences need to find common ground.

That common ground is the RCC. Our scheme puts the value of community at the centre of a place designed to enable people to come together and enjoy that cultural, hybrid heritage.

In a commitment to providing social and cultural infrastructure found in the best of international public building, we put the public space over the private through four key manoeuvres, focusing strategies and tactics over specific architectural responses (those can come later, but if the strategy isn’t right to start with …)

Firstly, the public space is raised into a podium-like ‘sky garden’ that – literally – puts the public interest over the private, providing level access across Devlin St and separation from the busy traffic below. Underneath this raised landscape are the bus interchange, car-park and retail spaces.

Secondly, the raised topography is treated like a landscape – folded, creased and manipulated to create community spaces like an outdoor auditorium and sunken plaza and to mediate the scale between residential and commercial interfaces within the site’s immediate context.

Thirdly, we propose that the major public rooms of the project – the theatre, the performance hall, the council chambers (which should be the most public of all) and the plaza itself can be combined into one grand indoor-outdoor event space to provide a unique and adaptable civic centre for the people – WE WANT MORE PUBLIC SPACE!

Lastly, but not least, is environmental, cultural and social sustainability. Sitting at the centre of the RCC is a retrofitted Ryde Civic Centre, an icon of Ryde’s past that represents our commitment to the cultural and social continuity with the past that allows us to move forward without obliterating where we came from.

Project Team
Colette Hortle
Amelie Devaux

Bamiyan Cultural Centre Competition

competition + public-cultural

Bamiyan Cultural Centre Competition

Bamiyan Cultural Centre

Run by UNESCO, this competition was for a 2000m2 cultural centre in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. Once home to 60m high Buddha statues, carved into the cliffs of the Hindu Kush mountains, the Bamiyan Valley was part of the Silk Road and an outpost of Buddhism and trade. The Buddha Statues and a series of monk’s hermitages, decorated with oil-painted frescoes on the walls and ceilings of caves carved into the sandstone cliffs were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.

UNESCO’s management of the site has sought to raise the awareness of the reconstruction effort of these Buddha statues, and has recently attracted independent funding from the South Korean government to establish a cultural centre on a hill-top site on the other side of the valley from the now empty niches where the Buddhas once stood.

A collaboration with Kevin Liu.

Green Square Aquatic Centre + Gunyama Park – Stage 2

competition + public-cultural

Green Square Aquatic Centre + Gunyama Park – Stage 2

GSAC + Gunyama Park

Our design sought to expand the brief, presenting the aquatic centre as more than a singular monument or closed typological monolith, but as an expandable part of the city and a space of event and interaction within one of Sydney’s emerging, densest development areas. We presented a park, aquatic centre, gym and associated facilities that, though employing a traffickable podium and the inclusion of a running track that loops in and around the park and the podium, that was intended as an open-ended piece of city making, capable of being expanded and supporting future, otherwise unexpected activities and events as Green Square develops a suburb with its own particular identity.

In collaboration with Kevin Liu, Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects and RMIT Professor Anton James of JMD Design.

Green Square Aquatic Centre and Gunyama Park, Stage 1

competition + public-cultural

Green Square Aquatic Centre and Gunyama Park, Stage 1

In collaboration with Kevin Liu as TYP-TOP Architecture Office, we were shortlisted from an anonymous field of 144 local and international entries to this competition for a $42m pool and gym complex for the City of Sydney. The brief included 4 pools, gymnasium facilities and a hectare of park land and recreational space in the heart of of Sydney’s Green Square development precinct.

Our proposal envisioned the precinct linked by a running track that looped up and over the private spaces of the development, maximising the site’s potential to create public space. In Sydney’s densest urban development area, between the airport and the CBD (less than 15 minutes from each), Green Square is a community soon to be home to over 40,000 residents. Our proposal sought to elevate the functions of the centre where possible to allow an accessible, public podium to be accessed all-hours, providing opportunities for unstructured and structured activities by neighbouring residents.

WWI Memorial, Washington DC

competition + public-cultural

WWI Memorial, Washington DC

WWI Centenary Memorial, Washington DC

Pershing Park sits at a critical intersection between the urban grid and the diagonal boulevards of the national capital. It exists between the everyday urban life of the capital and the network of Washington DC’s national icons.  Both a working park and a memorial to one of America’s most signicant  contributions to the stability of the Western world, we propose that Pershing Park transcends the scale of local park into the network of national icons that dene Washington DC. How can we reimagine the existing Pershing Park to respond to issues of city-making, of memory, place, remembrance and war in the contemporary age? Can the memorial be an urban object that positively contributes to a city’s present, while commemorating the memory of its fallen?

The new memorial and surrounding park is A House for General Pershing. The  new memorial is a shelter, a housing, and the rejuvenated park is its garden. The  memorial appears at first as an unadorned monolith – a blackened copper cube  whose solidity and weight suggest the burden of war upon society. The weight of  this monolith depresses the earth, moulding the land towards a single low-point,  dening a space of remembrance separated from the bustle of the Capital. The  memorial is rotated to align with Pennsylvania Avenue, establishing oblique and diagonal relationships with the White House, the Capitol and the Washington  Memorial. The memorial is an urban object, mediating the daily life of a city and the timeless scale of memory.

A collaboration with Kevin Liu.

89 York St, Foyer

commercial + interiors

89 York St, Foyer

Alterations to the ground floor lobby of a 1970s office block in the Sydney central business district. The current lobby is tired after many visitors and with substantial rooftop alterations to start on site imminently, the lobby is to be upgraded to suit a quality contemporary office block.