Privacy assured

A stand of lush, green bamboo ensures the spa bath in the master ensuite of this penthouse is screened from neighbouring office buildings

View of bathtub which is set into a bathroom, bathtub, daylighting, estate, home, interior design, real estate, room, window, gray
View of bathtub which is set into a limestone surround and features a slab of teak at one end.

One special feature of living in a penthouse apartment on top of an office block is that you are likely to have a great view over the city. On the other hand, however, the apartment is likely to be overlooked by other office buildings.

Kyle Gaffney, principal at SkB Architects, was asked to design a penthouse for an existing city building. To ensure privacy from nearby offices, landscape designers planted a 3m-high screen of bamboo along the edge of a deck outside the bathroom window. Sheer curtains can be pulled across the windows, and at night more privacy is created by uplights set into the base of the bamboo.

Directly inside the window is a double spa bathtub built into a surround of limestone imported from the Yangtze River in China. Horizontal lines chiselled into the limestone add a strong textural element to the space. The same stone, warmed by underfloor heating, is also laid on the floor.

View of vanity and shower enclosure with concrete bathroom, ceiling, floor, flooring, home, interior design, real estate, room, tile
View of vanity and shower enclosure with concrete vanity top, bog oak cabinetry, basins, faucetry, recycled glass tiled shower walls.

The owners wanted the whole apartment, including their own master suite, to be suitable for entertaining.

"A cavity slider past the library can be closed to separate the main living spaces from the master ensuite. However, it had to look good just in case guests should walk into it," says Gaffney.

To achieve this, the design is clean-lined, and everything that can be hidden is inside cupboards or behind doors. The mechanics of the spa bathtub are concealed below a slab of teak that appears to rest on top of the limestone tub surround. Recesses built into the teak provide storage spaces for items such as soap and massage brushes.

View of shower enclosure with faucetry, recycled glass bathroom, ceiling, daylighting, floor, flooring, glass, interior design, room, tile, wall, brown
View of shower enclosure with faucetry, recycled glass tiled shower walls and seat.

The vanity, topped with concrete, is made from dark bog oak wood that has been preserved in wetlands for thousands of years. To create a light, clean, spacious look, the cabinet cantilevers off the wall so it appears to float above the floor. Drawers and cupboards in the vanity are fitted with power points so hairdryers and shaving gear can easily be kept out of sight. Even the rubbish bin is stored behind a door. Four custom-designed pendant lights above the vanity provide plenty of light.

Recycled glass tiles, in a mottled shade of green that complements the bamboo screen, line the walls and ceiling of the shower enclosure. As well as having environmentally friendly qualities, the cork on the shower floor is non-slip and, with underfloor heating, is a warm and comfortable surface.

Credit list

JR Abbott Construction
Bog oak, clear finished by Stusser Woodworks
Villeroy and Boch, Loop and Friends
Silk Road sandstone from Rhodes Architectural Stone
Bedrock recycled glass customized in Celery and Brown
Ceramic drum
Jane Piper Reid
MechoShade Sheershade Basketweave in Charcoal/Bronze
Vanity top
Concrete by
Taps, shower fittings
Dornbracht Tara Classic
Benjamin Moore paint
Steven Jensen
Sheers by SMJ Studios

Story by: Mary Webb

11 May, 2009

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