Growing up, women’s health physiotherapist Alice Adamson spent many summers in Port Willunga on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula.
Her grandparents bought a house in the town (located about 40 minutes south of Adelaide) in the 1950s that continues to hold many special family memories.
Many years later, Alice introduced her partner, radiation oncologist Rahul Mukherjee, to Port Willunga, and he also fell in love with the rustic seaside town.
When an empty block of land appeared for sale in the town just 300 metres from the beach, Alice and Rahul jumped at the chance to create their own coastal oasis.
Alice and Rahul’s beach house was initially intended to be a cosy 70 square metres, but the pandemic changed their priorities. ‘Being two essential workers, we were both working crazy hours under crazy conditions and we realised we, and many other people, wanted somewhere to retreat and unwind,’ says Alice.
They engaged Mountford Williamson Architecture to design a slightly larger, yet still intimate, 100-square-metre house. ‘The house needed to be small enough to make us feel “cocooned” but large enough to be a fully functioning house where people could stay for extended periods,’ explains Alice.
The design of their resulting home, named Ukiyo House, is now available to rent as standalone accommodation, and will eventually form the guest wing of Alice and Rahul’s retirement home.
The main source of inspiration was Alice’s grandparent’s home, which is reflected in the timber ceilings, concrete floors, bamboo blinds, and expanses of glass.
Rammed earth walls reference the mud brick buildings of India’s West Bengal region, where Rahul holidayed with family growing up.
The house also draws inspiration from Japanese and Scandinavian design — evident in the use of shou sugi ban and raw timber (Victorian ash) materials.
‘Ukiyo is the merging of our lives and cultures and is meaningful to us. This doesn’t have a designated design term or theme, it’s just us,’ says Alice.
The form of the building was created in response to the surrounding environment, neighbours, and creating that coveted cosy feeling.
Alice explains, ‘The pavilion is tucked into the hillside, with the angle of its pitched floating roof following the slope of the site. The angle of the roof also allows the rear neighbours to have views over the top.’
Alice and Rahul completed the interior design and styling themselves, with assistance from their designer friends Gabrielle Walsh and Lucy Sedsman.
The styling is all Alice, who enrolled in a furniture restoration course and restored many of the pieces you see in the home.
In opening Ukiyo House to guests, every detail has been considered, down to the kitchen garden available for guests to pick produce from, and the signature scent that greets them on arrival.
The name ‘Ukiyo’ refers to the Japanese expression used during the Edo period (circa 1600-1868) that translates roughly to ‘the floating world.’ ‘The “world” was a place to escape, in order to cope with the frustrations of life,’ explains Alice.
‘That’s what we hope Ukiyo does for our guests — allows them to escape, slow down, breathe and recharge.’