• Elevation sketch of the Roslyn Gardens flats (SLNSW).

76 Roslyn Gardens, Elizabeth Bay, NSW, 1963

To design this nine-storey block of ‘bachelor flats’ on a Roslyn Gardens site, Snelling researched the likely daily needs of potential tenants (young single occupants or couples). He decided that this building, intended to be a prestigious and prescient example of a newly emerging type later known as studio apartments, should have significantly larger unit floor areas, 380 sq ft (35 sq m), than the 250 sq ft (23 sq m) sometimes allocated by low-budget developers.

Snelling’s client, the Mutual Acceptance Company (owned by his wife’s family, the Gales), expected long-term tenants. He planned the sixty-four units to allow occupants to install their own storage cabinetry and to screen off one corner alcove of the living-dining area as a bedroom. The dining table, included in the kitchen zone, also could be screened behind sliding doors. Bathrooms were between the kitchen-dining area and front door of each unit.

Snelling’s typical floor plan provided eight units of roughly square internal dimensions and with relatively deep balconies. These pinwheeled around a central services core, containing the lift, fire stairs, and rubbish rooms. Two opposite corners of the building were cut back because these corners would not have been habitable in Snelling’s floor planning – and externally, they helped reduce observers’ impressions of the bulk of the tower.

Architecturally, a key strategy was to push out the structural concrete frames of the units to create generously deep (4 ft 6 in; 1.4 m) balconies that optically extended the interior spaces and provided privacy and sun protection. However, because of building code restrictions on floor space ratios, developers were not then legally allowed to provide balconies, so Snelling’s builders initially fixed the metal balustrades just outside the sliding doors. After the building certificate was approved, these balustrades were reinstalled along the edges of the balconies.

Sources

—Building: Lighting: Engineering. 1963. ‘The A.F. Little story: rapid development and great achievement’, June, p. 83.

—Pemberton, Gary J. 1984. Douglas B. Snelling: A Monograph of His Works (B. Arch dissertation). Sydney: New South Wales Institute of Technology.

—Philippine Architecture and Building Journal. N.d. ‘Bachelor flats, 76 Roslyn Gardens, Elizabeth Bay, Sydney’, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 29–32.

—Sunday Telegraph, The (You and Your Home). 1966. ‘Home units – a way of life!’, 18 September, pp. 96–97.

—Sydney Morning Herald, The. 1964. ‘Interesting features in flats’, 12 May, p. 23.