Made of 160 tonnes of castle thick stone, this Grand Designs Australia home is an eclectic interpretation of the classic Tuscan villa.
Six years ago Louise Sergi, a web designer, and husband, Steve Hartwig, a psychologist, bought two acres of a rambling English garden in the Adelaide Hills. Using local stone, their dream home would be a rustic two-storey stone farm house with a modern twist.
To design their new family home, the couple took cues from a long and eclectic list of ideas and influences. Jostling for space on their long wish list was a modern design, which was a little Tuscan at the same time. They wanted to cater for their three children too, and they wanted the home to be spacious but subtle.
The property was an established English-style garden, and once part of a much larger estate, complete with one hundred year old outhouses. Louise and Steve wanted to allow the garden to lead the overall design of the house.
"I guess it's opposite the way a lot of people normally do it which is where you start with a house and build a garden around it,” says Steve. “I think we're trying to do the reverse of that, which is start with a garden and build the house in the middle of it.”
With merely their jumbled romantic Tuscan ideal, and a self-belief that they had what it takes to be owner-builders, the project begun by hauling massive amounts of concrete onto the property to support 160 tonnes of castle thick stone.
The finished building is essentially made up of two boxes – one rendered in stone, the other made entirely of glass. The first ‘box’ might be simple in form, but building nine meters of castle thick stone walls was no mean feat. This traditional stone walling is made at double thickness at each end to ensure authentic levels of solidity.
Inside, the mood changes. The kitchen is super contemporary, and culminates in a double height void. It is the very antithesis of a Tuscan farmhouse – open plan and bathed in natural light, thanks largely to their addition of glass wall on the northern side.
"It sort of gives us the opportunity to be more in the garden when we're in the house," says Louise.
Rising seven meters itself via a mezzanine level, internally the glass addition is separated from the main house, creating a void. A bridge across the void leads to four bedrooms.
The result managed to meet all of Louise and Steve's design wishes while only dipping slightly over their $600,000 budget.
It's a rustic farmhouse filled with light, and a house with a room to suit any mood. The house is one of extremes, and one that defies design categorisation.