Informed by Nature - Cleveland Rooftop by SJB
Redfern, NSW, Australia
“It is so important that we encourage people to actually engage with the world and their environment, rather than spend all of the time in artificial environments,” says SJB Director Adam Haddow. This belief is at the heart of the inner-Sydney Cleveland Rooftop project.
It is too often the case that landscape design is an after-thought in the area left over around the footprint of a house. Striving to inform the interior of the home by its interaction to nature is at the foundation of Cleveland Rooftop. As a resident of the project, SJB Director Adam Haddow is uniquely placed to understand the impact of this idea. “The apartment was designed around three principles; frame the views, celebrate the sky, live in the garden. Simple!” he says. Simple, and yet absolutely stunning.
This biophilic design approach in its unexpected urban setting has caught the attention of design industries worldwide. Claiming awards for use of colour, sustainability and residential design from esteemed bodies such as Dulux Colour Awards, IDEA Awards, Architizer A+ Awards and INSIDE World Festival, Cleveland Rooftop has achieved an exceptional level of recognition.
The site for Cleveland Rooftop is the original Demco Machinery factory and showroom in Redfern, New South Wales. Maintaining the original texture of the industrial warehouses as was at the forefront of the design intent. The goal was to bring the buildings up to code whilst keeping them as close as possible to their original state. Built separately, one of the warehouses dates back to 1889 and the other 1937. The structures are home to a trove of stories worth preserving.
Striving to inform the interior of the home by its interaction to nature is at the foundation of Cleveland Rooftop.
The warehouses were over-engineered to hold a very high weight tolerance, as when customers of Demco wanted to test large machinery, such as tractors, they were elevated in the oversized goods lift to the rooftop to ‘take them for a spin’. Many years later, this rooftop proved an excellent structural base the native rooftop garden conceived of by landscape designer William Dangar.
“Never underestimate the power of a tree,” says Adam. Cleveland Rooftop occupies an area of the adjoining rooftops with the remaining footprint dedicated to a communal garden that is accessible to the lower-floor apartments. It is a part of a greater inner-city Sydney initiative to bring more native green spaces to the communities, a subject that underpins the efforts of Adam’s work. He explains, “as architects and residents we need to ask ourselves what we can do to contribute. Understanding that not every project can save the world, but we can always find small things that will make our neighbourhoods more liveable.”
“The apartment was designed around three principles; frame the views, celebrate the sky, live in the garden. Simple!”
Adam and his husband, Mike, have been long-time furniture collectors, cherishing pieces such as “Big Mama,” the Up 2000 chair by B&B Italia, to add moments of playfulness and personality to their home. Windows and skylights pierce the shell of the apartment to inject natural light through the whole space. This drenching of light gives a gallery-like impression where the interior selections perform as artworks to be enjoyed and observed.
Framing the views was of the highest priority, so the environment of the interior is engaged with the outside world around it. Windows were deliberately placed in certain positions, no matter the symmetry, to display the perfect connections with the vistas beyond.
Remaining grounded to Cleveland Rooftop’s several foundational design intentions throughout the process ensured a clear and guided project outcome. The result is an exploration of these principles in both their complexity and simplicity as tools to learn more about our human experience of the home environment, and the relationship between architecture and landscape design.