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An Architecture Power Couple’s Extraordinary Concrete Home

Architecture

When you look at subtropical cities around the world such as São Paulo, Los Angeles, Cape Town and Hong Kong, their houses are very different to your typical Queenslander. Instead of timber and tin, these buildings more commonly showcase concrete construction conducive to the climate.

This thinking underlies much of Richards and Spence’s work – the architecture practice responsible for some of Brisbane’s most impressive contemporary projects including The Calile Hotel and Fish Lane Town Square

Their latest project, ‘La Scala’ is incredibly personal, as it’s the self-designed home of the practice’s power couple founders, Ingrid Richards and Adrian Spence. Applying their trademark gentle brutalism aesthetic through concrete and Eco Outdoor’s Scala® travertine, they’ve created a mammoth Bowen Hills home that places outdoor space at the literal centre, and deliberately blurs the line between a domestic and commercial use. 

14th June, 2021

‘La Scala’ by Richards Spence is primarily constructed from concrete and Eco Outdoor’s Scala® Travertine natural stone flooring tiles. Photography – David Chatfield.

The incredible outdoor landscape gives the appearance of a refined, contemporary version of a ruin, with greenery spilling over the edges. Eco Outdoor’s Scala® Travertine natural stone flooring tiles surround the pool. Photography – David Chatfield.

The project is the personal home of couple Ingrid Richards and Adrian Spence, directors of Richards and Spence. Photo – Yaseera Moosa

The same Eco Outdoor Scala® Travertine natural stone flooring tiles that feature outdoor have also been applied indoors on walls and stairs for overall cohesion, durability, and texture. Photography – David Chatfield.

‘Lush thick shady understory planting helps with privacy at ground level, and arid succulents give a sculptural silhouette on the roof and pool terrace,’ says Ingrid of the extensive landscaping. Photo – Yaseera Moosa

Photo – Yaseera Moosa

Amelia Barnes
Monday 14th June 2021

‘The lawn is our living room most of the year.’ – Adrian Spence

Architecture practice Richards and Spence has been credited with changing the face of Queensland, so big things were expected from Ingrid Richards and Adrian Spence’s personal home.

After five years of deliberating on the best approach (‘Architects are the worst client!’ says Ingrid), the couple devised a unique floor plan set over two buildings, with a protected outdoor space at the centre of the upper storey. It’s essentially the opposite of a traditionally structured Australian home, which normally sees a singular building at the centre of site, with a yard on either side. 

‘Capturing the outdoor space in the middle of the house promotes occupation and privacy from neighbours,’ says Adrian of the alternative floor plan’s benefits.

Just as progressive is the future planning of the home, which Adrian says has been flexibly considered to potentially serve as a gallery or restaurant in the years to come. This multipurpose design has already been put into practice, having hosted the Richards and Spence office in the street-facing northern dwelling for the past two years.

Ingrid and Adrian’s residence meanwhile resides in the rear building, that spills out onto the upper lawn followed by the gleaming blue pool and tiered garden area. 

‘The lawn is our living room most of the year,’ says Adrian. ‘The stepped facade behind the pool and roof access to the southern building allows guests to experience the scene from different vantages, sometimes encouraging impromptu performances.’ 

The extensive use of Eco Outdoor’s Scala® travertine natural stone and concrete across this incredible landscape gives the appearance of a refined, contemporary version of a ruin, with greenery spilling over the edges. 

‘Lush thick shady understory planting helps with privacy at ground level, and arid succulents give a sculptural silhouette on the roof and pool terrace,’ says Ingrid. 

The same travertine material has also been applied indoors on walls and stairs for overall cohesion, durability, and texture.

Just as The Calile Hotel has quickly established itself as a local contemporary design icon, Ingrid and Adrian’s home is a landmark Brisbane project for the ages.

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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