reuben french-kennedy curates sweeping perspectives with the willunga house

reuben french-kennedy curates sweeping perspectives with the willunga house

designer reuben french-kennedy realizes the ‘willunga house’ outside adelaide, australia as a place of retreat for his retired parents. with a focus on environmental sustainability, the team seeks to introduce a bright and comfortable dwelling space that includes a guest bedroom and studio wing. commenting on the design process, the architect notes: ‘the challenge as I saw it, was to create a home which successfully met the brief and all functional requirements, and adopted passive design techniques whilst achieving its own expressive architectural identity which still fit snugly within its context.’

reuben french kennedy willunga
images by peter barnes



reuben french-kennedy sculpts the sweeping willunga house with a softened L-shape in plan. the exterior is realized as a hard shell, clad with galvanized iron along its outward-facing facades, while the recessed inner faces are expressed with a warmer timber finish. these carefully carved niches introduce shading during the heat of the summer, an essential detail to offset the extensive, full-height glazing. the designer notes the house’s relationship with its site: ‘by strategically perching the building within the hillside, we were able to sit high enough in the landscape to capture the views, but low enough to avoid a balustrade on the deck, enabling an uninterrupted view from the kitchen and living space.’

reuben french kennedy willunga



by siting the willunga house at the rear of the plot, reuben french-kennedy celebrates the extensive garden space in front. the house is organized as a singular volume, narrow and thin, which wraps around a sheltered ‘almost courtyard’ garden. entering the building from the east, the occupant is met with a threshold, presenting the option to either continue straight toward an open-plan living and dining area, or turn right into a guest wing and studio. this flexibility allows the eastern wing to transform into a space that is self-contained and maintains a sense of privacy and separation from the main living area.

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