Friday, April 3, 2015

Walkley Residence - Robin Boyd in Adelaide

Jane Walkley and her dogs, in front of the house her parents built. Photo ©Darren Bradley

Last year, I had the pleasure of visiting the Walkley Residence in Adelaide. I'd been wanting to see it for a while, so I was very excited to finally get the chance. Turns out, the best part was actually meeting the owner. 

Front entrance. Photo ©Darren Bradley
I reached out to Jane, the owner, through a mutual contact - Tony Lee of the Boyd Foundation. I called from the airport as soon as I arrived in Adelaide. She was very gracious and told me to come over that same afternoon. She welcome this camera-wielding stranger from America into her home and let me have the run of the place. 

Guarding the domain... Photo ©Darren Bradley
I spent all afternoon at the house, and into the evening. We hit it off well and she told me lots of stories about her parents, and how they came to have such an extraordinary home in the heart of Adelaide. 

Under the trellis in the front yard. See that garden urn? That's a remnant from when this lot was occupied by an small Victorian bungalow and a garden. The Walkley's kept that urn and placed it there prominently in the front of the house as a reminder of how it used to be. A nice gesture. It's been there ever since. Photo ©Darren Bradley

Jane's father, Gavin Walkley, was a well-known and respected architect in his own right. In fact, he would eventually become Head of Architecture at the South Australian Institute of Technology. 

walkley gavin
Gavin Walkley, from a portrait by Ivor Hele (1968)

But Walkley greatly admired and respected his friend, architect Robin Boyd, and so he invited the architect to design his own home. Quite extraordinary! I understand Walkley had a hand in the design, of course, collaborating with Boyd. 

Living area off the entry, with built in book shelves below the ribbon windows. Photo ©Darren Bradley

The fireplace with its copper hood is the most distinguishing characteristic of the living area. Photo ©Darren Bradley

One corner of the living area is reserved for the formal dining table. Photo ©Darren Bradley

It was great to hear stories about what it was like to grow up in such a beautiful home, which she shared with her brother and her parents. Jane clearly still loves the house, and she recently moved back to it. 

Like the fireplace, the bannister and handrail are also made of copper. On the right, we see the chimney flue rising up from the living area below through the roof. This served a practical purpose of warming the upstairs. Photo ©Darren Bradley

Despite its exotic appearance, it's actually quite a simple and modest house - befitting the times in Australia then, but also the sentiments of Boyd and, undoubtedly, Walkley. 

The lower floor has the living and dining areas, as well as the kitchen in the rear. The upper floor has the three bedrooms (for the parents and two kids) along the front, with bathrooms, a small office, and a maid's room in the rear. Note the textured glass on the lower sections of the bedroom windows, to provide privacy. Photo ©Darren Bradley

It's interesting how different the house looks from the rear. I'd never seen photographs of it. But it's easier to understand that it's really a simple brick house with part of the upper floor cantilevered. The bricks were formed in a lattice pattern to create a brise-soleil along the rear windows, both to provide privacy for the bathrooms and to shield the windows from the harsh afternoon sun. That's the rear access to the kitchen below. Photo ©Darren Bradley

I'm very grateful to Jane for her wonderful hospitality. I was a real pleasure to meet her and I look forward to returning... 

Walkley House
Walkley Residence. Photo ©Darren Bradley

For more information on Robin Boyd and his own home in Melbourne, click here. 

For my blog post on another Boyd home in Canberra that I had the chance to visit, click here. 


Unknown said...

That overhang is really quite gorgeous. All those open windows and timber panelling too! There's no greater motivator to keep a neat house than this kind of open concept!

Unknown said...

The floor to ceiling space just gives the entire structure a more comfortable and serene environment. The interiors are just appropriately chosen to fit the ambiance. I have seen a few bungalows here in Adelaide that have almost the same ambiance, which is very relaxing not only to the body and mind, but to the eyes, too (with all that space!).

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