HomeHome + GardenKangarilla house a labour of love

Kangarilla house a labour of love

A Kangarilla home designed by architect Max Pritchard and built by a father and son.

When you walk through the door into Ben Della Torre and Caroline Dorr’s Kangarilla home, the first thing that strikes you are the sweeping views stretching to Mt Lofty.

Nestled into a rocky hillside, tall windows dominate the northern and western sides of the house, flooding it with natural light and offering vistas that stretch to the ocean to the west and across the Adelaide Hills to the north.

The home is a timeless, yet unique, design that capitalises on the natural landscape to make it more energy efficient.

Alongside carefully considered design features like double glazed windows and dark grey concrete floors that create a thermal mass, the home’s expansive northern windows are protected from the summer heat a high protruding verandah, which still allows the lower winter sun to slip through.

“I was really keen to make it as passive as possible, so really wanting a north-facing house, really taking advantage of that thermal heat you can get,” Ben says.

“We had about four or five different sites to choose from, but this one really ticked that box in those real thermal properties I was after – north facing, but you can see straight over to Mt Lofty, but then down along the coast as well to the ocean.”

Finished in 2008, the home was a labour of love, designed by architect Max Pritchard, but built by Ben and his father over about 18 months using stone quarried from the site.

“Dad’s a builder … so I’ve always been good with my hands and always had that connection with it and Dad’s always mentored me over the years with that,” Ben says.

“So it came quite naturally, working with him and he is a very special person – there’s a lot of love there in the way he did this and he’s very proud of what we achieved here.

“It was quite a special time to do that with him.”

Since the house was completed, a granny flat and garage have been added, both separate from the main house which, reflective of Ben’s interest in post-modern architecture, rises out of the side of the hill with a distinctive curved roof that envelopes the eastern end of the house like a hood.

“Max started with a circle and then broke that into quarters and then just wanted it sort of emerging out of the side of the hill here, and then it evolved from that really,” Ben says.

“One of the key things was you didn’t want to look at this house in 15 or 20 years and think it was built in the early 2000s.

Layla, Ben, Caroline and Saige call the house home.

“We did want to have a house that would stand the test of time.” But while the house creates a striking silhouette on the hillside, Caroline also describes it as a “very practical family home”.

“Aside from being beautiful and in a spectacular location, the layout is functional – it’s just so easy to live in,” she says. “The kitchen – everything about it is just so intuitive and you come home and it’s warm and it’s easy to prepare meals, it’s easy for everyone to go to bed and not keep each other awake – it’s not a huge house, but that’s part of the functionality, I think.”

Surrounded by 24ha of land, much of which is native bushland that has been given the chance to regenerate after grazing stock was removed about 15 years ago, the property is a haven for a vast array of native birdlife.

“We’ve got our bluewrens nesting in the garden and waves of different species of honeyeaters that come … we’ve had the yellow tailed black cockies right in this banksia tree … it’s like a wildlife show,” Caroline says.

“You’re living inside,” Ben adds, “but you really are living outside too here, because you’ve got all this spectacular environment around us.

“… All the eucalypts are about to start flowering now and as soon as they start flowering you’ll see a whole other suite of species of bird come through here.

“So you really do feel in tune with where you live.”

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