Subscribe      List an Event or Business      Invite a Writer      Write for WN      Writers      Other Locations      HubGarden      Recipes
1 million Australian readers every month      list your event

Adelaide's Most Unusual Houses

Home > Adelaide > Architecture | Environment | Escape the City | Free | Historic Houses | Kids | Lists
by Dave Walsh (subscribe)
I enjoy writing about Adelaide and its many attractions. If you think Adelaide is boring, the problem is not with Adelaide. adelaideunearthed.blogspot.com.au/
Published November 7th 2016
Is your house shown here?
Which is Adelaide's Most Unusual House?

adelaides most unusual houses, unusual houses, christie walk, in adelaide, environmentally friendly, green homes, sustainable, mansions, houses in adelaide, the marines grange
The Marines Grange - State Heritage Listed Houses in Adelaide


Adelaide has a wealth of housing styles, from your bog standard post war austerity homes of the fifties through to magnificent mansions, and two storey Tuscan piles.

But there are some houses that simply do not fit into the standard South Australian urban style classifications, nor even bear any resemblance to others around Australia.

Let's take a look at some of the more interesting houses in Adelaide, although I will also include others from all about South Australia.

Adelaide Hills Face Zone Houses

adelaides most unusual houses, unusual houses, christie walk, in adelaide, adelaide hills, green homes, sustainable, mansions, houses in adelaide, city of adelaide
City of Adelaide Views From the Adelaide Hills


The Adelaide Hills Face Zone commands some spectacular views of Adelaide's metropolis, and has long been sought after by the more affluent so that they can overlook us mere worker drones.

A Sunday afternoon cruise to Mount Osmond will allow you to sigh longingly at the passing parade of architecturally designed structures. Or not, in some cases.

adelaides most unusual houses, unusual houses, christie walk, in adelaide, adelaide hills, green homes, sustainable, mansions, houses in adelaide, hidden house
Can You Spot the Hidden House?


adelaides most unusual houses, unusual houses, christie walk, in adelaide, adelaide hills, green homes, sustainable, mansions, houses in adelaide, overgrown garden
The Overgrown Garden Driveway is the Clue


In places the gardens are so lush and overgrown that it is not possible to even discern the existence of a house. Is this a new form of green home perhaps? In some cases, the only clue to a residence is a driveway, usually marred with an ugly "Keep Out" sign.

adelaides most unusual houses, unusual houses, christie walk, in adelaide, adelaide hills, green homes, sustainable, mansions, houses in adelaide, brown house
The Brown House in the Adelaide Hills


adelaides most unusual houses, unusual houses, christie walk, in adelaide, adelaide hills, green homes, sustainable, mansions, houses in adelaide, brown house
The Brown House Seen From the Street


When architect Chris Watkins built his Adelaide Hills house, he wanted it to blend in to the surrounding environment as much as possible. Covering the exterior of the house with a thin veneer of copper has produced a rich dark brown colour which will slowly change with time.

The final colour of the house will vary depending on the location and what it is exposed to, but the results are sure to be interesting and unusual, if not unique.

More Adelaide Hills Haciendas

adelaides most unusual houses, unusual houses, christie walk, in adelaide, adelaide hills, green homes, sustainable, mansions, houses in adelaide, alpine chalet
Adelaide's Most Unusual Houses - an Alpine Chalet


This house looks almost like a chalet - while very much at home in Adelaide I feel it could be transported to the Swiss Alps and not be out of place. I'm not convinced the colouring is perfect for blending in, but I still like the appearance of the house.

adelaides most unusual houses, unusual houses, christie walk, in adelaide, adelaide hills, green homes, sustainable, mansions, houses in adelaide, solar farm
Is This a House or a Solar Farm in the Adelaide Hills?


My next house is environmentally friendly in that it is well stocked with solar panels. And without a doubt it is a green building. But is this place a house. What do you think?

adelaides most unusual houses, unusual houses, christie walk, in adelaide, adelaide hills, green homes, sustainable, mansions, houses in adelaide, pool with a view
Swimming in the Air - a Pool With a View


I didn't even notice the house this time, but the idea of taking a swim in a pool with views all over Adelaide does have a certain appeal. Perhaps they would like a house sitter?

adelaides most unusual houses, unusual houses, christie walk, in adelaide, adelaide hills, green homes, sustainable, mansions, houses in adelaide, house on stilts
An Unconventional Design - a House on Stilts in the Adelaide Hills


Another very modern house, but does it blend in with its surrounding environment?

adelaides most unusual houses, unusual houses, christie walk, in adelaide, adelaide hills, green homes, sustainable, mansions, houses in adelaide, house for a car
A Space Age House for a Car by Architect Damian Campagnaro


My last selection from the Adelaide hills is another house that blends in well, at least from some angles. Made of modern materials, it is best described as a rectangle with rounded corners. When I Googled that shape in an attempt to find a word to describe the shape, I discovered that Apple has apparently patented it. Could this building be confused with an iPad?

adelaides most unusual houses, unusual houses, christie walk, in adelaide, adelaide hills, green homes, sustainable, mansions, houses in adelaide, house on poles
Adelaide's Most Unusual Houses: a House on Poles


One advantage of the house is that there is virtually no garden to speak of. But I don't think I would like to be the pole painter.

Environmentally Friendly Green Homes

adelaides most unusual houses, unusual houses, christie walk, in adelaide, adelaide hills, green homes, sustainable, mansions, houses in adelaide, christie walk adelaide
Christie Walk Adelaide, Sustainable Green Homes


One of the best examples of building green to a sustainable design can be found on Sturt Street in the city. Christie Walk is an urban village of green homes designed by architect Paul Downton to be environmentally friendly.

adelaides most unusual houses, unusual houses, christie walk, in adelaide, adelaide hills, green homes, sustainable, mansions, houses in adelaide, christie walk
Christie Walk Seen From Sturt Street Adelaide


The 27 dwellings are part of a sustainable building complex, and their designs are highly unconventional. There is a roof garden which acts as a thermal buffer in addition to providing a place of pleasure for residents.

Large areas of the buildings are shaded by climbing or hanging plants, which are selected for their low water requirements. Buildings are positioned to maximise natural light, and passive insulation is extensively used together with double glazing for windows.

adelaides most unusual houses, unusual houses, christie walk, in adelaide, adelaide hills, green homes, sustainable, mansions, houses in adelaide, christie walk
Adelaide's Most Unusual Houses: Christie Walk Tower House


There are a multitude of other features designed to minimise the community's environmental footprint. A small alley at the entrance to the precinct houses the Christie Walk Story Wall, describing the history and goals of the development.

For an even better look, book a tour of this sustainable development for a small fee. It looks great value if you are interested in sustainable design.

adelaides most unusual houses, unusual houses, christie walk, in adelaide, adelaide hills, green homes, sustainable, mansions, houses in adelaide, story wall
Story Wall at Christie Walk


Classical Mansions in Adelaide

adelaides most unusual houses, unusual houses, christie walk, in adelaide, adelaide hills, green homes, sustainable, mansions, houses in adelaide, adelaide mansions
Adelaide Mansions: Carramar, Formerly St Margarets


Despite the best efforts of the Weatherill government and Heritage Minister Caica to eradicate any architecture that remains standing from previous centuries, we still have a scattering of beautiful old mansions. Sadly it seems Parliament House is exempt from demolition.

In this article I will touch on a few only. I don't think that they are necessarily the best, but they are grand mansions and well worthy of being more widely seen.

Carramar (once known as St Margaret's) has already been covered in a previous article, but its future is seriously at risk because the government needs to recoup some of the ridiculous overspending that the fat cats of the Health Department incur. While other organisations incur "deficit" or "debt", the SA Health Department merely suffers "cost pressures". This in no way prevents spending more money, it just means scheduling another trip to Treasury to get a top-up.

The National Trust have highlighted Carramar in its Heritage at Risk program. It will be a great loss for SA if the government allows this beautiful State heritage listed home to be replaced by a seven story office building.

adelaides most unusual houses, unusual houses, christie walk, in adelaide, adelaide hills, green homes, sustainable, mansions, houses in adelaide, olivet house
Olivet House in Stirling (Photo Jonathon Kissock)


State heritage listed Olivet House, originally known as Wachenappee when built around 1900, is a magnificent mansion sitting on about 6,600 square metres of beautifully landscaped grounds in Stirling.

A grand and elegant large family residence, the elaborately decorated formal entrance leads to equally formal sitting room and a dining room suitable for entertaining the corporate board.

The garden features terraced hedging, many old mature trees, a tennis court, and is a delight to wander. You can see a very early 1900 photo of the original landscaping here.

adelaides most unusual houses, unusual houses, christie walk, in adelaide, adelaide hills, green homes, sustainable, mansions, houses in adelaide, olivet house
Olivet House (Photo Jonathon Kissock)


I am grateful to Jonathan Kissock and Jamie Brown of Bernard Booth Real Estate for their assistance with the above images.

adelaides most unusual houses, unusual houses, christie walk, in adelaide, adelaide hills, green homes, sustainable, mansions, houses in adelaide, urrbrae house
Urrbrae House in Adelaide's Southern Suburbs


Urrbrae House is a historic mansion built in 1891 in the Urrbrae Precinct, and the entire Precinct area is well worth a visit. For more information about Urrbrae House, read this article.

It too is a classic example of an early Adelaide mansion, and the University of Adelaide take very good care of it and use it to entertain VIP's .

adelaides most unusual houses, unusual houses, christie walk, in adelaide, adelaide hills, green homes, sustainable, mansions, houses in adelaide, cummins house
Cummins House - a Popular Wedding Venue


Cummins House doesn't really qualify as a mansion, having started life as a cottage. Subsequent additions have combined to give it an unusual and attractive character. But this place is steeped richly in South Australian history, and is surrounded by delightful gardens well tended by volunteers.

To visit Cummins House is like stepping back in time, as the interior is well preserved and many of the contents are original from the period when the house was in use by the original owners.

Find out much more about Cummins House in this article.

Simply Very Unusual Houses

adelaides most unusual houses, unusual houses, christie walk, in adelaide, adelaide hills, green homes, sustainable, mansions, houses in adelaide, futuro house
Futuro House at Deep Creek (Photo Bill Doyle)


Once upon a time, many years ago, a man named Derek Jolly bought a new house to live in at North Adelaide. Now Derek was a little unconventional and also moderately wealthy, so he chose a Futuro "space ship" home to land in North Adelaide.

The Futuro house was made in the 1960's and early 1970's and was a round prefabricated house originally designed as a ski cabin by a Finnish man. It was quite popular originally although ultimately only less than 100 were made.

It certainly polarised opinion at the time, but after his death the house was sold and has now "flown" to a remote location at Deep Creek, somewhere in the Cape Jervis area.

You can learn rather more, and see a picture of the Futuro in its original location here.

adelaides most unusual houses, unusual houses, christie walk, in adelaide, adelaide hills, green homes, sustainable, mansions, houses in adelaide, futuro house
Futuro House Resembles a Spaceship (Photo Bill Doyle)


Now Adelaide's modern homes are not to be outdone by a 50 year old, even if it does look like a UFO. Architect Max Pritchard has pushed the envelope to come up with some very unusual but practical designs.

What do you do If your block of land has a creek running right though it? No problem, take a look at this.

How to get the best views for a new house in the Barossa Valley? Just build a 60 metre long house made mostly of glass! This amazing house was featured on Grand Designs Australia series 3.

Take a look at the Pritchard website and check out some of the truly unconventional designs.

Of course Max Pritchard isn't the only Adelaide architect to produce an off the wall design. Take a look down in Port Elliot where architect Shane Hendriks has come up with something highly unusual.

Looking a little like a child's set of building blocks after being stamped on, this house is a showcase for Terraçade tiles - a new light weight and low maintenance building product. I'm not sure what it would be like to live in it, but it does make me feel a little seasick just looking at it for a while.

So there is my selection of Adelaide's more unusual homes. Do you think you can better it? Have you seen something even more funky or unusual?

If you have, tell us about it in the comments.
Help us improve  Click here if you liked this article  101
Share: email  facebook  twitter
Why? See weird Adelaide houses
When: Anytime
Where: Adelaide, SA
Cost: Free
Your Comment
Fabulous article, Dave.

Architecture and design are major interests of mine and I've just spent ages clicking on the links and checking out some of these interesting houses (while I should have been editing - back to work now!).

I wish more people would think outside the boring housing-developer box when it comes to houses. A house is supposed to be a place of shelter and refuge and living, and that can be provided in so many different and interesting forms.
by Geraldine Massey (score: 3|7487) 1702 days ago
I was thinking more of residential homes. Thanks anyway. If you drive up to Burnalta Crescent in Burnside, you won't see a house or mansion. You will see a castle. There is no way you will miss it.
by Yin-Yin Ow (score: 3|1589) 1703 days ago
Thorngrove Manor Stirling
and
Tickle Tank Mount Barker
are 2 worth adding
by susna (score: 1|10) 1323 days ago
Was waiting eagerly to see what houses you would come up with Dave. I like going up to Mt Osmond to see firework displays without the crowds. Out of interest where do you go about finding out who the architect is behind the design of a building?
by Yin-Yin Ow (score: 3|1589) 1703 days ago
In Adelaide at present and just stayed at Buxton Manor which was really interesting in North Adelaide.
by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (score: 3|4543) 1699 days ago
Amazing information. Amazing story.
by curiouser&curiouser (score: 2|525) 1695 days ago
Is the Marines Grange used as individually owned units/apartments now??
by r.eng (score: 2|268) 278 days ago
The ABC Dream Build show did an episode about the oval house in part 2 of the article: http://www.abc.net.au/tv/dreambuild/episodes/ep02.htm
by Dave Walsh (score: 4|10303) 1652 days ago
Wow what a space age shaped house.I really love it,I just wish to be there to view in one of the good days though I don't know where is it situated.that is really a unique $ beautiful house I've ever seen.
I
by crosb (score: 0|2) 423 days ago
More Adelaide articles
Articles from other cities
Featured
Foodi Photoh Classie
Top Events
Popular Articles
Categories
Lists
Questions