Where Architects Live | Adam Haddow

  • Crowning the top storey of a circa 1930s machinery warehouse, SJB director Adam Haddow’s rooftop Sydney home is engulfed by greenery.

     SJB director Adam Haddow’s own home, which he shares with his husband Mike and dog Eric, occupies the top floor of a heritage-listed warehouse. While it’s not your typical home layout, spanning between the old lift enclosure and the emergency escape stair, Adam realised the potential of the building and quickly jumped on the opportunity to purchase. The designer set out to enrich the experience of inner-city rooftop living through a garden that you can live in, rather than be ‘surrounded by’. 

    The result is the clever response of a compromise between Adam and his partner – Adam craving a garden and his partner wanting a home above ground level. The home achieves an overwhelming sense of calm among its urban surroundings through a meticulous floorplan organised around outdoor connections and a garden overflowing with native Australian flora.

    Adam intentionally arranged the floorplan around the sky to maximise the light flow where possible. The entrance hall and bathrooms are punctuated with skylights. At the same time, the main kitchen, living and dining area sees a number of deep ‘cuts’ within the walls, establishing a connection to the outdoors and dissolving the interior/exterior interface. 

    The home embraces the qualities of open plan living, but simultaneously, Adam says, creates rooms and corridors to lend the experience a level of formality. “It was important that the apartment layout created a sense of drama, achieved through the inclusion and exclusion of light and aspect to create a journey and sequence of space,” Adam adds.

    Clad in viridescent poly cupboards, the kitchen is a ‘not so subtle’ nod to the creeping Boston Ivy wall over the study and bathroom. Balanced with simple stainless steel benches, a mirrored splashback, timber flooring and the consistent concrete ceiling, the vibrant kitchen is where Adam and his husband spend most of their time. “My husband loves cooking, so it was nice to spend some energy on the interior of this room and connect it to my most favourite space – the garden,” Adam explains. “I love laying on the grass on a Saturday afternoon, watching the sky and forgetting that you’re in the middle of the city.”

    “My husband and I feel really relaxed in the house. It feels like it’s always been there, there is a familiarity to it, but it still feels exciting and intriguing.”


    – SJB director Adam Haddow

    Adam’s home features a number of eclectic pieces, including the Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos by Anna-Wiley Highfield hanging in the lobby. “They’re hand-sewn from paper and circle under the entry skylight,” Adam says. “You walk underneath them every time you enter and exit the house – it’s like they’re waiting for you to get home!”

    A narrow teal walkway leads to Adam’s private study upstairs.

    With striking views of the Sydney skyline, Adam’s home office features the DePadova Vidun Table and Herman Miller Eames Aluminium Group Management Chair. Art (left to right) by John Coburn and Ben Albury.

    Adam Haddow worked with Will Dangar and Tom Smith of Sydney-based landscape architecture practice Dangar Barin Smith on the rooftop garden, realising ideas they had been tossing up on past collaborations. “It was important that the garden contributed a sense of drama by creating spaces beyond the immediate visual frame,” Adam says. “We wanted to make everything feel bigger and lend it a sense of intrigue, so you’re always wondering what is around the corner or through the door.”

    The rooftop garden strays from the ideals of the usual polished penthouse garden and instead aims to provide respite for indigenous birds and insects. Unlike the contemporary European garden style, Dangar Barin Smith and Adam Haddow took to the quintessential, relaxed Australian backyard to design an unobtrusive landscape. “It deliberately extends the experience of the apartment outwards to embrace the natural world and offers a place of rest to local wildlife,” Adam says.

    The curved shower is clad in blue tiles from Surface Gallery, evoking a feeling of ‘calm and freshness’.

    The living spaces embody a relaxed aesthetic, while the private areas see a shift with dark blue hues and sweeping curved walls. This deliberate tension between formal and informal heightens the sense of drama when moving through the home and makes for easy compartmentalisation when the family are visiting. 

    A striking curved shower evokes luxury in the master ensuite, recreated in the circular skylight above. Adam says he chose these tonal blues and greys in this space to instil a sense of calm and freshness, so the act of bathing took on a more ‘ceremonial’ feeling. “You can also see the sky from the shower – I love daydreaming under the water; it’s rewarding to watch the clouds pass over while you’re showering,” Adam adds.

    Adam Haddow’s nature-led intervention repurposes the historic rooftop to serve as a sanctuary for him and his husband and a place of retreat for the native fauna it attracts –  a true oasis in the city.

    SJB Director Adam Haddow

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