An award-winning holistic space you will want to live in
Words: Laura Mappas Images: David Sievers
It’s the way the straight lines and harsh materiality of the exterior meshes seamlessly with the meticulously planned and executed gardens that makes this unique home in Adelaide’s inner north award-winning.
Picking up a commendation at the recent SA Architecture Awards, the design is the work of local firm, RAD Studio. “The key design element of this home lies in its function,” says Creative Director Chris Rowlands, explaining that the central aim was to create a “gallery” for the sensational gardens, which are the work of homeowner and horticulturalist Ngoc Dinh.
Five thoughtfully placed courtyards and a greenhouse-like space that connects the original 1950s home to the new build are central to the execution of this concept. Polished concrete flooring combine with warm natural timbers to create a modern, earthy vibe, while polycarbonate panel shave been used to provide a sense of calm, enabling the diffusion of natural and artificial light. Lush greenery decorates the area, with a collection of hanging planters and pots injecting colour and creating shadows.
To the left and right of this ‘connector’ are two of the five courtyards – each a private space servicing a bathroom on one side and an ensuite and robe on the other. RBW Dimple wall sconces soften these wet areas, offering ambient lighting, while custom walnut cabinetry adds another level of luxury.
The central courtyard, which sits alongside the kitchen to the east of the home, has been planted with Japanese Maples and mature Frangipanis. This space is also home to an elaborate outdoor kitchen, complete with oven and cooktop. Back inside, and perched above the kitchen, is a bright and breezy mezzanine area, which boasts views to the Maple garden below. To the west of this central courtyard lies another calming enclave featuring a dedicated reading nook and study looking out onto a pond filled with Water Lillies.
It’s this clever layering of greenery against the cold surface of concrete, the choice of textures and the influx of natural light that opens up the otherwise small spaces and gives this home it’s overall appeal. And it’s not just aesthetic– opening the home up to the north was essential for passive thermal performance. “We wanted to get as much natural light in winter as possible,” says Chris, explaining that the room sizes and window openings were designed purely off solar angles, so in the middle of winter the entire room is flushed with sun.
Likewise, the green elements and the materiality also has significance. “Early on in the design phase Ngoc shared with usher passion for architecture,” explains Chris, “in particular, she spoke of buildings she had grown up with. Ngoc presented Vietnamese Brutalist architecture – buildings that had this beautiful juxtaposition between rigid architectural forms and heavy plantings that engulf and soften the structure. The integration of garden and building Is something we wanted to celebrate.”