Where Architects Live | Kyra Thomas

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    Architect Kyra Thomas takes est through her reinterpretation of a self-storage warehouse in Queens Park, Sydney, that she now shares with her husband and two young children. 

    When architect Kyra Thomas set out to transform a place for her family to live, she wasn’t looking for an ordinary challenge. Fortuitously, this led Kyra to an old warehouse in the middle of a suburban block in Sydney’s Queens Park, which she describes as a “total anomaly”. We knew immediately that we could create something very special with the old warehouse. Great friends of ours had converted a shed nearby, and it inspired us to find and do something similar,” she says.

    Working within the original red brick boundary walls, Kyra has maintained the essence and history of the original building while introducing a new home shaped around four garden courtyards. Finished just weeks before the first Sydney lockdown in 2020, Kyra and her husband moved into their new home with an eight-week-old baby and a toddler. “Having a curated completed home to settle into, quietly away from the world was an enormous blessing. We felt so safe, grounded, and settled,” she adds. We spoke with Kyra about the risks she took pulling off the project, what design decisions she’s most grateful for making, and why the indoor-outdoor spaces are fundamental to the overall experience.

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    The Viabizzuno Tubino pendant above the dining table is one of the only ceiling light fixtures in the home. “There was so much light that we decided halfway through the build to remove all ceiling lights from the project,” Kyra recalls. 

    The warehouse’s 3.5-metre red brick walls, built to the boundary, were retained – visible from nearly every opening in the home. The walls separate the home from the neighbours and suburb’s context more broadly, while Kyra sees them as “wrapping around the new life they’ve created”. “Being a battle-axe site, the house has little street presence, and the exterior face of the warehouse walls remains unchanged, so there has been little to no impact of the house on our neighbours,” she says. “The garden courtyards allow us to enjoy the borrowed landscaping of our neighbours and vast views of the sky.”

    Kyra deliberately wanted to keep the house small and efficient. Initially approved as a two-storey home, the architect and her husband decided to stick with single-storey. “We interrogated our brief so that the incorporated spaces were all that we needed – nothing more,” Kyra explains. “This is something difficult to do with a client, but going small was something that we were happy to do to establish a life that is equally thoughtful and sustainable.”

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    “We wanted the architectural challenge of working with an unusual site to create a generous home for our future family. It was a huge opportunity for me and my architectural practice.”

     

    – Architect Kyra Thomas

    “Having no outlook, we needed to create our own”, Kyra says, which made way for four courtyards that each room interacts with – inviting fresh air, light and greenery indoors. Working with landscape firm Fieldwork Associates, each courtyard is designed to feel like an extension of each room while each room shares a different orientation and view to its connecting outdoor space. “The greenery is layered and brings texture and colour into the home,” Kyra says. “It is incredibly special to have the views, openness, and abundance of natural light by virtue of the courtyard positioning. I especially love the movement of the plants as the wind.”

    The stripped-back material palette speaks to Kyra’s approach to design. A lover of natural light, the architect repeated a natural palette of limestone, oak, carpet and linen curtains throughout that she says combine to create a softness that offsets the minimal architectural forms. Cladding the bathroom in just one material – sand-blasted limestone – has led to an atmosphere that the architect says is both Brutalist and soft. “The bathrooms are completely spa-like with full-length skylights bringing diffuse, natural light from above,” she adds. 

    Kyra says you can immediately feel the time and season in each room depending on the light quality. “There was so much light that we decided halfway through the build to remove all ceiling lights from the project,” Kyra says. “Using floor to ceiling full-width openings and carefully considered skylights – we enjoy a glorious variety of light throughout the day.” 

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    The Ligne Roset Togo settee and Objekto Paulistano armchairs feature alongside custom pieces designed by Kyra: a rug made by Whitecliffe Imports and a coffee table made by Saltwater Joinery. 

    Having spent concentrated time in her home, Kyra says she is most grateful for the “sequence of spaces”. “We have distinct spaces to be in together during the day and our own quiet spaces to retreat to in the evening. Having that variety of space has given us great joy (and sanity) during the past two years.”

    It comes as no surprise the level of detail and consideration behind an architect’s own home, particularly one that requires reinvention. Kyra’s home reveals the ethos of her architecture practice but, most of all, the way she wanted her family to live now and in the future – marked by light, quietness and greenery. 

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    Kyra’s home is a study in the generosity of light, scale and orientation, achieved through four central courtyards.

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    “Being surrounded by the warehouse walls blocks so much noise and stimulation out so we can use the home to reset, be still and be quiet. It is very serene.” – Kyra Thomas

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    The Queens Park House is inserted within the warehouse’s existing brick walls that were built to the boundary.

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