Architect Adrian Bonomi grew up in a genuine family home. Along with his parents and younger brother, he shared the house with his artist grandmother, who designed it, and grandfather, who built it.
“It was a big, white, spack rendered, flat-ceiling, flat-roof house, which, for the 1950s was a bit out there when everything else was just brick veneer bungalows with pitched tile roofs.” It was in this environment, surrounded by creative and practical people – including his mother, also an architect – that Adrian started dreaming about architecture and building.
Adrian began his extensive architectural studies at the Sydney Institute of Technology, completing a Diploma in Architectural Technology and then into the University of New South Wales to complete his degree in architecture with honours. Adrian spent three invaluable years of work under the talented and renowned Sydney architect and professor Neville Gruzman, then moving on to establish himself as an innovative architect in London and Melbourne before settling on the Mornington Peninsula in Autumn 2013. Other than offering more places for him to windsurf, living here allows Adrian to focus on the elements of his work that mean the most to him. “It’s quite different, and it actually suits where I want to take my residential architecture,” he says, which is more about “great design and working with craftspeople and builders.”
Designing for rural land on the Peninsula comes with its own challenges and planning requirements, but Adrian says there is generally greater freedom than metropolitan areas where houses need to fit in with neighbouring dwellings. Adrian has found an inspiring dynamic in the regional character that he aims to reflect in his work. “I think the peninsula is a really unique mix of rural environment, natural environment, people and culture that you don’t find in many places in Victoria.” “I think it’s an incredible area for an architect to be based.” From the beaches to the vineyards to the artist’s hangouts and craftspeople, he describes it as a melting pot that exists within a wonderfully dramatic landscape. All of these factors feed into the way Adrian thinks about the buildings and spaces he designs.
Despite his urban experience, Adrian is conscious not to bring a city aesthetic or idea of what a building should be to his local work. He is averse to the idea of building houses here that are essentially imported in design and construction, from Melbourne or further afield, particularly on prominent sites where they sometimes stick out like a sore thumb. On the contrary, Adrian feels as though the move to the Peninsula is bringing a new, richer look to his work. It has been a big move, but with his focus on design and buildings that complement the surrounding environment, he sees great potential and a lot of people who are keen to invest in good architecture in the region. Adrian has been busily building local connections to ensure in every way possible that each project is a localised project. This is also part of having a focus on sustainable design, which, for Adrian, is “completely interwoven with the whole design philosophy.” “It makes sense when you live in a rural area to be as self-sustainable as you can be,” he says.
In that vein, Adrian has been working on an innovative module prototype, called the Habipod, a flat pack, pre-fabricated housing unit that meets top environmental standards and is designed to provide a flexible dwelling option. The carbon neutral modules are stylish, quick and easy to construct and could serve as eco resorts, guest housing, holiday homes, urban dwellings, community buildings and affordable housing. Once a project is finished and inhabited, Adrian says he feels a great sense of satisfaction, but as with any art or design that is handed over to others to enjoy, you have to let it go. “Art is never finished, only abandoned”, said Da Vinci, and this is nowhere truer than designing a house or community building – a “living, breathing” space that goes through constant change. It becomes a home to people who fill it with belongings and memories, and may choose at some point to repaint or even, someday, renovate. Adrian is also keen to be involved in community buildings such as kindergartens, child care centres, schools, libraries, aged care facilities and surf clubs. And of course, what kind of architect would he be if he didn’t have plans to for his own home on the Mornington Peninsula? Still, to be involved in the formation of community buildings and other people’s homes, is a rather special privilege. Helping people create a built environment that is a living space for them to enjoy, in harmony with the environment, aesthetically and functionally. This is the foundation of Adrian Bonomi’s work. To contact Adrian Bonomi Architect please p: +614 3331 3505 or email him on [email protected] or visit his website