The Palumbo Group - The Prince's Terrace

Free-flowing and functional

A thoughtful and innovative approach to kitchen design helped this ground-breaking home development achieve the gold standard in green design.

Photo courtesy The Palumbo Group


Gabrielle Chariton

One of Adelaide’s newest and most exciting medium-density developments, The Prince’s Terrace, represents something of a housing revolution: heritage-inspired architecture intersects with innovative construction methods and energy efficient design to deliver affordable and highly sustainable urban living.

HIA members Palumbo recently completed the construction of this innovative housing project for Defence Housing Australia (DHA), in collaboration with Renewal SA and the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community (Prince Charles’ personal charity, which promotes socially cohesive, sustainable housing).

The Prince’s Terrace comprises eight three-bedroom townhouses and four mews apartments. Styled with heritage detailing such as window boxes, gabled rooflines, iron balustrading and bullnose awnings, the homes are a smart, 21st-century interpretation of traditional Edwardian architecture.

The nod to history, however, ends with the aesthetics. In terms of functionality and liveability, this development epitomises the future of housing, with contemporary floorplans and the latest features in sustainable design. In fact, The Prince’s Terrace sets a whole new precedent for sustainable housing in Australia, achieving a high rating for design, and taking pains during the build to achieve the same high rating after the multi-unit residential complex was completed.

Palumbo worked in partnership with UK-based architects Architekton, The Prince’s Foundation, DHA, and sustainability consultants dsquared. Managing director Daniel Palumbo says it was a complex project at every level, thanks to the triple imperatives of achieving the sustainability targets, working to retain the English design concepts, and incorporating the requirements under the National Construction Code.

The Palumbo Group - The Prince's Terrace
In The Prince’s Terrace, every aspect of the building contributes to the energy rating
Photo courtesy The Palumbo Group
The Palumbo Group - The Prince's Terrace
Shaker-style cabinet doors & local black granite
Photo courtesy The Palumbo Group

The building’s sustainability outcomes were rated across nine categories, which include construction management and practice, indoor environment quality, energy and water use, and materials selection.

In The Prince’s Terrace, every aspect of the building contributes to the end result, Daniel explains. Innovations include a high-performance foam block construction system, dual-aspect cross ventilation, passive solar design, and a considered approach to materials selection.

The kitchen – as the hardest-working room in the home – contributes substantially to the overall rating at a number of levels. In every residence, for example, the kitchens are constructed from low-formaldehyde joinery panels and all glues, paints and other finishes are low-VOC, which dramatically improves the indoor air quality by reducing airborne chemical pollutants.

Each home within The Prince’s Terrace will use 50 per cent less energy and 50 per cent less potable water than a typical urban dwelling. As such, tricked-up lighting design, so often a feature in new kitchens, was eschewed in favour of energy-efficient LED ceiling lights for general illumination, with task lighting placed only over the kitchen bench. High WELS-rated taps in the kitchens and bathrooms help the homes meet the water targets.

Aesthetically, the kitchens reflect the heritage styling of the exteriors, with crisp, Shaker-style cabinet doors and drawer-fronts and classic subway tiles on the splashbacks. The look is anchored by glossy Adelaide Black granite benchtops – the stone was quarried at Black Hill, just 100km north-east of Adelaide. Local selections such as this ‘reduce life-cycle impacts of construction materials through reduced transport’, Daniel explains. The timber flooring was sustainably sourced through Chain of Custody timber certifications.

The design was for a free flow space where the kitchens are open-plan and connected to the living spaces

In each residence, the kitchen layout is designed to optimise liveability.

‘The design was for a free flow space where the kitchens are open-plan and connected to the main living spaces’, Daniel explains.

‘The townhouse kitchens are located on the ground floor and are connected to the living room which flow to the courtyards.

‘The mews dwellings have kitchens connected to the living rooms, these do not have courtyards but the living rooms have three Juliet balconies to interact with the outside.’

Kitchens have evolved into multi-functional spaces, where we cook, dine, entertain friends and family, and supervise homework. While the layout of the kitchens in The Prince’s Terrace varies slightly between residences, they all feature clever, adaptive design features to support a wide range of uses.

‘The multi-purpose design means that the townhouses have a fixed breakfast bar with the sink,’ Daniel says.

‘The mews dwellings have a mobile island bar which can be relocated to suit the occupant.’

This allows the space to be adapted as the situation requires – pushed into the kitchen for food prep, tucked out of the way during a party, or used as a workbench or dining table. This smart design innovation maximises the useability and accessibility of the whole living space.

The Palumbo Group - The Prince's Terrace
High WELS-rated taps help the homes meet water targets
Photo courtesy The Palumbo Group
The Palumbo Group - The Prince's Terrace
A mobile island bar can be relocated to suit the occupant
Photo courtesy The Palumbo Group

With just 12 residences, The Prince’s Terrace is a relatively small housing development, but Daniel says economies of scale worked in their favour while installing the kitchens, with some cost savings enabled by bulk ordering of materials.

‘The repetitive nature of installing kitchens in multi-residential means contractors become more efficient as they progress through the project. There is certainly a noticeable time difference from the first install to the last.’

The Prince’s Terrace was completed in December 2017, and Air Force squadron leader Sarah Jackson and her pilot husband, Glenn Salmon, were the first tenants to move in. As summer temperatures in Adelaide hit 40-plus degrees, Sarah says ‘the house was so cool we rarely used our air conditioner … the overall design, functionality of the layout and lifestyle is brilliant’.

Daniel Palumbo says the success of The Prince’s Terrace project represents something of a turning-point for the future of medium-density housing development.

‘We hope this pioneering effort is a message to all that this can be achieved with the right level of commitment, collaboration and a sustainable mindset. Palumbo will continue to push the boundaries and test our abilities while encouraging others to look towards more sustainable construction solutions.’

The Prince’s Terrace kitchens at a glance

Location: Bowden, Adelaide
Time taken to build: 12 months
Benchtops: Adelaide Black granite
Joinery: Low-formaldehyde panels, low-VOC 2-pack finish
Tapware: Sink mixer, five-star WELS rated Flooring: sustainably-grown Australian timber
Walls: Low-VOC paint
Tiling: White subway tiles, low-VOC grout and tile glue
Windows: Double glazed low-e glazing
Lighting: Flicker-free LED lights with CRI of 80

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