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Black Rabbit’s Ode to Timeless Architecture

January 22, 2018
Black Rabbit’s Ode to Timeless Architecture

January is all about new beginnings and seeking out those things that inspire us the most.

At House of Home we look to the design realm for examples of fantastic architecture and interior design. In doing so we came across this stunning project in the Adelaide Hills by Black Rabbit Architecture + Interiors. Besotted by this home, we reached out to chief architect Sean Humphries to learn more about his epic renovation. Here's what we discovered.

There is a certain poetry to the work of architect Sean Humphries and his team at award-winning Adelaide studio Black Rabbit Architecture + Interiors. So it was entirely appropriate that the brief for Number 6 Aldgate started with a haiku from its owners;

things of stone, wood, glass,
simple elements, combined
to create a home

In truth, the 70s ‘cream-bricker’ needed significant work to transform it from a cold, dark, mish mash of 70s and 80s infills and add-ons. It boasted faux Mediterranean render, terracotta tiled roof, gratuitous arches and a French provincial décor.

“Our aim was to reinvigorate a tired, ‘pokey’, poorly planned, and non-contextual building, and create a well-appointed, modern, family home which capitalised on its spectacular surroundings. A home that would bring the light and outlook in to the house,” Sean explains.

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The strong relationship between architecture and interior design is critical to the way Black Rabbit works. “A tightly knit project team is integral to the success of any project. We design all our projects from the inside out and develop the interiors and the architecture simultaneously,” Sean explains.

So there is indeed a poetry in the way Black Rabbit created a harmony between landscape, external architecture and interior. Nestled in the Adelaide Hills the house was well sited and had ‘good bones’. Sean’s solution was to create strong lines, framed views and light and airy spaces.

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The transformation was extraordinary — the old home unrecognisable after its renovation. With strong, contemporary lines balanced with warm, tactile materiality, Aldgate is now a respectful ode to the classic forms of mid-century modern. As Sean muses, “it gestures to iconic forms from days gone by, with familiarity of homely materials punctuated by ‘blackness’, and affording the tired and gloomy original house a new lease on life”.

The external weatherboards, charcoal maxline cladding and raw concrete paving provide cues to 6 Aldgate’s rural context. New landscaping softens the exterior and helps the building to settle into its surrounds. Internally, the light and bright palette works to capture natural light while there is repetition in the dark 2-pack joinery ‘boxes’ which also echo the exterior.

American oak creates a gentle, rhythmic link throughout the spaces and natural textures such as the wool carpets provide a cosy, homeliness. “We deliberately diffused the lighting in the living space”, Sean explains. “This emphasises the room’s clean lines and allows a soft glow to gently bathe the space.”

Extending the existing central axis, Black Rabbit created a new living zone, which neatly separated the parent’s and children’s wings. A new entry, butlers pantry, laundry and powder room were concealed behind custom, dark, two-pack box-like joinery.

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To maximise spectacular views down through the valley, Sean stepped the floorplate through this new addition. “The sunken living room that looks down in to the valley below is my favourite aspect of the design,” Sean says.

There is something epic about the refurbishment of this home. It has both a familiarity and ‘newness’ to it which is welcoming and relaxing. And yet the scale and finish of this remodel ensures Aldgate is destined to become a timeless classic.

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We would like to thank Sean Humphries and Black Rabbit Architecture + Interior for inviting us to step inside this stunning home. Sean has won numerous awards including SA Architecture Award for Folding Rundle (2010), City of Adelaide Award or Folding Rundle (2010) and Emerging Architects Prize (2011). In 2017 Black Rabbit received two Architecture awards for Number 6 Aldgate.


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Project Credits:

The Project Team Design + Project Architect: Black Rabbit Architecture + Interiors: Sean Humphries - theblackrabbit.com.au

Interior Designer: Black Rabbit Architecture + Interiors: Bettina Hildebrandt

Landscape Designer: Mark Barnett Gardens: Mark Barnett

Builder: THUS: Michael Pipinias

Photography by: Aaron Citti


We would also like to thank our guest writer Kate Shaw for her work on this article.


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