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A Light-Filled Forever Home With A Uniquely Australian Outlook

Architecture

A sloping site, with two gigantic gum trees right in the centre mightn’t see like the ideal block to build on, but in the case of this home in South Australia’s McLaren Vale wine region, the dramatic appeal of those towering trees far outweighed the challenges they presented.

The ‘Sugar Gum House’ by Architects Ink is designed around the trees, offering unbelievable leafy views from every angle of the home.  The result is a stunning, yet surprisingly understated architectural home, with a distinctly Australian outlook.

18th August, 2020

The kitchen looks out onto the landscape through the wall of west-facing glass that stretches end-to-end. Photo – Sam Noonan.

A covered concrete balcony sits on the northern end of the structure, making the most of the day-long sun. Photo – Sam Noonan.

The upper level houses the communal kitchen, living and dining spaces. Photo – Sam Noonan.

The master bedroom. Photo – Sam Noonan.

The master bathroom. Photo – Sam Noonan.

A simple material palette was essential to provide a backdrop to the art and furniture collections, as well as drawing attention to the spectacular landscape views. Photo – Sam Noonan.

The study sits on the bottom floor and opens to the garden. Photo – Sam Noonan.

Owing to the sloping site the house looks humble from the streetfront. A large custom glass door revolves on a pivot. Photo – Sam Noonan.

The house sits behind two ancient sugar gum trees. Photo – Sam Noonan.

Sasha Gattermayr
Tuesday 18th August 2020

‘The aim was to build a light-filled house which integrates passive thermal principles, while capturing the magnificent view over the McLaren Vale region to the sea beyond.’ – Tony Lippis, director and architect

The Sugar Gum House by Architects Ink is located in Willunga, a South Australian town neighbouring the famed McLaren Vale wine region. As its name would suggest, the house is designed around two towering sugar gum trees, that sit in the middle of the sloping site. The clients were a semi-retired couple with a love for architectural design, who engaged Architects Ink to design an architecturally magnificent home around these trees, while maintaining a strong connection to the site.

‘The aim was to build a compact, light-filled house which integrates passive thermal principles, while capturing the magnificent view over the McLaren Vale region to the sea beyond,’ explains director and architect, Tony Lippis. With steep terrain and the enormous sugar gums dictating the scale and location of the dwelling, the rectangular brick house is built into the site rather than on top of it. 

The street-facing threshold is level with the rear of the sloping site, allowing the low-lying brick facade to appear humble from the streetfront. Upon entry through a customised glass pivot door, this illusion quickly dissolves (!) with dramatic floor-to-ceiling glazing running the length of the west-facing exterior. This spectacular end-to-end glass maximises views across the landscape, and integrates the nearby ancient gums into every angle of the communal spaces occupying this floor. This upper level houses a lounge, kitchen and dining space, while a covered concrete balcony is perched at the northern end of the structure.

The steep nature of the hillside plot pushes the second floor to follow the gradient and sit neatly below the first. Invisible from the roadside, this private level contains bedrooms, bathrooms and a study, all of which open out onto the garden. 

Alongside the ancient trees, The Sugar Gum House is a new landmark atop this hilly, picturesque  region of South Australia.

See more projects from Architects Ink here.

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net