Ingrid Richards & Adrian Spence, Bowen Hills, QLD
Images by Yaseera Moosa
We’re endlessly interested in the private spaces that architects design for and inhabit themselves. Often an expression of both personal tastes and professional ethos, some of the most special and spectacular homes featured on the Journal over the years have been the love-projects of their talented owners. La Scala by Ingrid Richards & Adrian Spence, founders of architecture practice Richards & Spence, is a shining example of this. With a portfolio of retail, hospitality and civic projects under their belts including the much loved Calile Hotel, the couple has drawn on a wealth of experience and an array of influences to create a truly unique home. We spoke to Ingrid & Adrian about their design and build process, art collection and why the courtyard and pool became one of their most important design choices.
“We live on the very edge of the city. The urban location allows us to participate in an urban context. We wanted to make a building that could evolve over time. A non-prescriptive building that could be a home, an office, a gallery, a restaurant. We wanted a place for significant events in our life and the lives of our friends and family. Over the last three years, our house has hosted many special occasions for our friends and family.”
“When we acquired the site, there was a single detached timber house at the front which had been substantially altered with little of the original fabric remaining. The city fringe location is a remnant hill of detached houses bounded by commercial neighbours.”
“The topography of the site was key to establishing a private courtyard protected from the street. The elevated courtyard enclosure moderates views with privacy. At the level of the courtyard, the smaller Northern residence enjoys a vantage above the street to the river beyond. The stepped landscape above the North residence unfolds to the pool and courtyard behind.”
The topography of the site was key to establishing a private courtyard protected from the street.
“The primary residence is revealed slowly. Perceived as a modest bungalow from the courtyard, the larger Southern residence is organised in sections with bedrooms stacked below the living room on the southern elevation. Solar access is maintained with the stepped section to the north and the full extent of the site is experienced from the living spaces.”
“The pool is the focus of the courtyard. Summer or winter the swimming pool is central to the outdoor experience. An inverted pool fence maintains visibility. Significantly, the courtyard occupies the footprint of the original house inverting the idea of a single detached house in the middle of the site.”
The pool is the focus of the courtyard. Summer or winter the swimming pool is central to the outdoor experience.
“Originally conceived as 2 bedrooms, the main bedroom occupies the full extent of the lower level and the full width of the southern elevation. A double height curtain wall of glass to the south is a cinema of skyscapes particularly when summer storms roll in. The large space affords a flexibility with furnishings and artwork refreshed seasonally.”
“We travel frequently and widely (when we can). Our home holds the souvenirs of our travels together and a collection of furniture and lighting designed by our favourite architects. There is a large ceramic vase carried in hand luggage from Amsterdam that miraculously survived the journey, a clam shell from the original home.”
Our home holds the souvenirs of our travels together and a collection of furniture and lighting designed by our favourite architects.
“Our art collection is mixed. From the photo-realism of Michael Zavros to the landscape abstractions of Sally Gabori. A recent Bill Henson photograph sits beside an anonymous photographic portrait found in Marrakech.”
“We both studied architecture at the University of Queensland. After practicing with larger firms for 10 years, we started our own practice in 2008 with a focus on improving the public environment of Brisbane. Nothing leaves the office without our shared endorsement. We have realized that if either of us is not happy with the design, then it’s not the right answer.”
“Each of our projects is a prototype for the next. The Calile Hotel is our most significant project to date and embodies the collective thinking of our practice. We see ourselves as custodians of our built environment and consider our work to be part of a part of the evolution of our city, not a full stop in time.”
“For 2021 we are looking forward to the rest of the world hopefully sharing the freedoms we have been allowed here in Queensland.”