Custom-Built Homes – 116 Edward by Urban Habitats
Emerging from a collaborative approach, 116 Edward is an exemplar custom-built home from Urban Habitats. From the acquisition of land – either on or off the market – to the delivery of architectural detail, the company’s design and construction team channels its 20 years of experience into the execution of elevated projects.
Situated in the Adelaide suburb of Norwood, 116 Edward is comprised of two contemporary two-storey homes. Originally purchased in January 2020, the project was recently completed in April 2022, having required the demolition of a pre-existing, dimly-lit 1950s dwelling. One home proposes a dark, moody aesthetic aligned with the Manhattan residential experience whilst the other celebrates Scandinavian style, embracing natural light and texture. “We were excited to show our design styles and what we could bring to the industry,” explains Sarah Stephen, Architect at Urban Habitats. “The project presented both the design studio capabilities while also continuing to show the construction team’s highly efficient, detailed and quality-focused capabilities”, adds Jock Merrigan, Managing Director of Urban Habitats.
With both residences purchased while under construction, the project is imbued with a sense of confidence in the proficiency of Urban Habitats. Architectural work was able to commence immediately, in light of both the design and build being overseen by a singular company. Reviewing the property, Urban Habitats recognised the appeal of the irregular-shaped allotment with a creek running along its north-eastern boundary – however, it also acknowledged the inherent challenges of the site. The design brief detailed increasing the intensity of the land usage and – given the homes’ proximity to the shopping and restaurant precinct Norwood Parade – developing the architectural presence of the project on the street, so that each home complements its urban surrounds.
Externally, 116 Edward forms a coherent environmental response and self-introduction. The dimensional rhythm of the pavement tiling is translated into a fence of evenly spaced white metal battens, engaging the streetscape, enabling visual connection to the home and offering a sense of protection. Following a similar logic, the metal detail is repeated on the upper level of the residence, partly shielding a bedroom and adjoining corridor. While the height of the metal fence is kept at a steady level – reflecting the dignified nature of its function – the stature of the metalwork beyond is purposefully varied to articulate a playful built form, speaking to a relaxed residential lifestyle. In contrast, the ground level is clad in lengths of timber, and to the right of the fence, the street number is displayed on a cream-coloured brickwork wall. Combining with the white metalwork, the timber and brickwork introduce the material and colour palette of the home, serving as an apt suggestion of the interiority.
Collaborating with the clients, Urban Habitats develops the interior of 116 Edward. Natural light streams into the spaces through full-height windows, as well as elongated skylights towards the entryway. “The expansive skylights provide a light-filled void and a space that takes your breath away,” says Sarah. Large-scale sliding doors open the project to serene courtyards and balconies. Horizontal and vertical lines are juxtaposed by softly curving elements including a bespoke fireplace breast and curved island bench with academy mosaic tile. Seamless functionality is proposed using high-end gadgetry and customised details such as Smeg appliances, 2pac joinery and a concealed garage door, fridge and lift. Both residences have fixed and operable louvers on the upper-level windows, allowing residents the opportunity to control the amount of light and privacy afforded. The windows also draw the gaze upwards, highlighting the height and spatial character of the building.
A natural sanctuary within an inner-city suburb, 116 Edward utilises an efficient materiality. Throughout the home, slimline brickwork, natural timbers, vertical battens and large expanses of glass create a feeling of warmth through the framework of luxurious solidity. “We really wanted the external materiality to extend internally, blurring the line between the spaces,” explains Sarah. Dappled light and greenery soften the visual impression, with Urban Habitats retaining two pre-existing palm trees to the northern orientation. The trees embed the project in place and present the house favourably when compared to it in scale.
While establishing its own design style, Urban Habitats draws inspiration from midcentury modernism – especially its Australian application – as well as Scandinavian principles. The result sees 116 Edward organised according to a practical floor plan, presenting a series of spaces which capitalise on the botanical creek line. On the upper level of the home, the polished concrete of the ground floor is replaced by muted grey carpeting, which fosters a feeling of intimacy in the sleeping quarters. Taking a restrained approach to colour, Urban Habitats is able to emphasise the soothing effect of layered textures, utilising natural stone and soft fabrics. In the bathrooms, broad mirrors bounce light across the room.
Featuring light-filled spaces with refined interior design, 116 Edward demonstrates the inherent versatility of Urban Habitats. Scrutinising the project at every stage, the construction and design team extract the best from the landscape and interior, crafting homes that do justice to their impressive skillset.