A sculptural white winding staircase

Move Over Cafès, This Gallery Doubles as an Artful Workspace

In Byron Bay, a creativity-fueled coastal neighborhood in Australia, a former industrial building takes on new life as the Tasman Gallery, which doubles as a meditative workspace. Offering a play of scales, the boxlike structure, with interiors by Benn + Penna, features intimate corners as well as dramatic double-height ceilings. “The purging of clutter becomes an exercise in less is more, with spaces becoming almost monasticlike,” shares Andrew Benn, director of the studio. “The environment is generous and thought-provoking while the materials remain quiet and refined.”

A winding sculptural staircase at the building’s center leads to a lofted workspace that overlooks the art on display. “There is drama—the mezzanine wraps the void, like a stage, with a stainless steel curtain,” he adds. The staircase also acts as a catalyst for workplace interaction within the building, which is illuminated by a series of small skylights. “Soft materials like lino floor, perforated surfaces, and lush furniture dampen the acoustics,” Benn continues, as do suspended acoustic ceiling panels. In the upper level, a steel mesh railing adds to a feeling of openness, ensuring sight lines remain uninterrupted while amplifying the industrial aesthetic.

A monochromatic palette, complete with white workplace pods, balances the building’s industrial shell, inviting a sense of play and endless options for reconfiguration. Greenery perched on concrete planters adds pops of color throughout, offering a connection to nature. The space also is delineated by metal display shelves, which house art and books. “The project continues Benn + Penna’s mission to create calm, constrained and considered spaces, using a minimal material palette, with modest, timeless designs, for sustainable outcomes,” says Benn. “Our designs explore the intensity of one or two materials to craft original, functional spaces.”

As one of several prefabricated sheds within a large industrial estate, the hybrid gallery/workspace serves a community haven, offering visitors a sense of tranquillity amidst carefully curated art. In time, the gallery owner plans to host temporary exhibitions by local artists in addition to showcasing his private collection. “The flexible nature of this area is an attractive element for prospective tenants of the mezzanine office spaces above,” says Benn. “It has an other-worldly atmosphere, like an incubator of creative thinking.”

Explore the Tasman Gallery in Byron Bay, Australia

A white ladder shelf near a gray wall
Flooring is exposed polished concrete on the ground level, with zones delineated by paint.
A look at the gray steps in the winding white staircase
The stairs feature gray steps within its cocoonlike walls.
A green tree in a white corner
Garden elements are scattered across the space to encourage a connection to nature.
A wooden bench in the center of the gallery
A minimalist wooden bench offers space for contemplation.
an upper level of the gallery with workspace
The metal mesh balustrade around the second level workspace is aesthetically simple, allowing for light filtration.
A brown armchair overlooking the gallery
Upstairs low maintenance and durable marmoleum flooring facilitates sound absorption, and allows for color matching in offices.

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