Sitting atop a former machinery building in Sydney is a true secret garden, challenging the norms of inner-city living.

Granted, this is no ordinary project. This garden is just one element of architect and director of SJB Adam Haddow’s incredible self-designed penthouse apartment.  

The apartment is located on the top floor of a recently created development, occupying two adjacent, former industrial buildings on Redfern’s Cleveland Street: the 1889 New York and Brooklyn Tobacco, and the Demco Machinery Company added in 1938. The site offers rare views across the Sydney skyline, right through to the Blue Mountains.

Creating a home this special called for a spectacular garden to match. Enter Adam’s long-time collaborator, William Dangar, founder of landscape design practice Dangar Barin Smith. William designed this garden on an area spanning the building’s original goods lift enclosure and emergency fire stairs. His intention was to create an outdoor space that truly felt like a place to live, rather than an apartment simply surrounded by greenery.

This new private garden sits adjacent to the building’s main outdoor area, shared by all other residents. Included are several zones encouraging entertaining, lounging by the outdoor fireplace, and even open-air bathing. The use of Eco Outdoor’s Endicott Split Stone natural stone flooring tiles wrapped in native dichondra repens (kidney weed) helps soften the edges of these zones, and create a lawn-like look without the maintenance. ‘The aim was to maximise the feel of the outdoor spaces by creating individual areas that lead to one another, but are visually separated by vegetation. This made the space feel generous and added interest throughout the site,’ William says.  

Choosing plants appropriate for the location and restricted depth (40mm) of soil was among the biggest challenges of this project. Native plants were predominately selected to encourage local wildlife, and give the garden the best chance to thrive.  ‘Being a rooftop space with limited water, soil and protection from the elements, plants had to be resilient to high winds and exposure,’ William says. 

The rooftop of the Demco Machinery Company building today is a far cry from what it was several decades ago (it was once used for test driving tractors!), but its current purpose is equally practical. William and Adam’s clever use of urban land highlights the opportunity inner-city buildings can provide towards supporting local fauna, to the benefit of all. 

SJB’s design of this project took out the residential category at the prestigious international INSIDE Awards in 2017.

Eco Outdoor specialises in natural stone flooring and walling, together with outdoor furniture and fabrics to create an inspiring life outdoors. Eco Outdoor is committed to innovative products that maintain integrity and quality and possess an organic aesthetic that transcend style and age gracefully.

This garden features Eco Outdoor’s Endicott Split Stone natural stone flooring tiles throughout various zones in the outdoor space. Photo – Felix Forest.

 A 1969 B&B Italia Up Series armchair is one of the incredible interior pieces. Photo – Prue Ruscoe.

Eco Outdoor’s Endicott Split Stone natural stone flooring tiles feature in the garden’s dining area with a fireplace. Photo – Felix Forest.

The use of Eco Outdoor’s Endicott Split Stone natural stone flooring tiles creates a seamless connection between indoors and out. Photo – Felix Forest.

The apartment is the architect, SJB director Adam Haddow, and his husband’s, own home. Photo – Felix Forest.

The rooftop of the Demco Machinery Company building today is a far cry from what it was several decades ago. It was once used for test driving tractors! Photo – Prue Ruscoe.

The living room opens to the garden’s outdoor dining area with Eco Outdoor’s Endicott Split Stone natural stone flooring tiles. Photo – Prue Ruscoe.

A beautiful outdoor bath makes clever use of a narrow side passageway. Photo – Felix Forest.

‘The aim was to maximise the feel of the outdoor spaces by creating individual areas that lead to one another but are visually separated by vegetation,’ says William Dangar. Photo – Prue Ruscoe.

Eco Outdoor’s Endicott Split Stone natural stone flooring tiles are used both internally and externally in this project. Photo – Felix Forest.

Native plants were predominately selected to encourage local wildlife and give the garden the best chance to thrive.  Photo – Prue Ruscoe.

The use of native dichondra repens (kidney weed) wrapped around Eco Outdoor’s Endicott Split Stone natural stone flooring tiles helps create a lawn-like look without the maintenance. Photo – Prue Ruscoe.

Eco Outdoor’s Endicott Split Stone natural stone flooring tiles are featured in this incredible design. Photo – Felix Forest.

The site offers rare views across the iconic Sydney skyline right through to the Blue Mountains. Photo – Prue Ruscoe.

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