Island retreat - The team at Arkhefield bring us one of their latest residential wonders in form of a simple, low maintenance, sustainable living volume which can be enjoyed all year round. The motives behind the design - maximising space and privacy - are attacked head on, as are the isolation and harsh climatic conditions on the island with basic low maintenance materials. The resulting simplistic structure, appears as a coastal tree, with its roof-line shaped by the strong winds and elements. Elements from which it can hunker down further, shelter, isolate and reorientate the use of external spaces.
The house offers a stark contrast to the predominant low shacks by the way that it expresses and celebrates volume, simplicity of form and its ability to manage/manipulate the external environment. The house appears to be inspirational amongst the community with many new houses currently under construction on the island being designed and sited in a similar manner.
The house is a simple extruded profile with its form being solely dictated by town planning constraints. Height, setback and roof pitch essentially created the volumetric section which was extruded to the road and waterfront boundary, then set back to maximize the enclosed space. The house breaks out onto the terraced waterfront on the east, for summer fun and to an enclosed "winter courtyard" on the west. The relatively closed north and south façades retain privacy from the adjacent blocks, and shelter from strong summer sun.
The isolation of the site put a premium on the construction cost as all materials and skilled labour had to be barged out to the island. These constraints created unique challenges and encouraged a rethink to heavy/bulky build elements that couldn't be barged out to the site. Environmentally Sustainable Design principles of orientation and sitting along with use of solar, gas, rainwater harvesting, bamboo cladding/screening and a thermally efficient monolithic floor slab were all core ideas behind the build.
The house is split in half down the centre of its length with a large double volume "communal" living space on the north and a 2 level "private" core, comprising of bedrooms and service zones, on the south. The interplay between the two halves of the house creates a sense of inclusion and encourages interaction between family and guests whilst still enabling privacy and seclusion.
Our clients desire to recreate a "Bahaman" styled beach cottage with shingled, pitched, roof and quaint shuttered windows made for a challenging brief. They wanted the house to take them back to the memorable vacations they had spent in exotic locations. Through exploration and development it became evident that decoration and themed architecture may enable brief relapses into the bygone but that intelligent design and the creation of flexible spaces stimulated communal interaction, which was what really recreated that relaxed holiday atmosphere they were seeking. They are extremely happy and are enjoying there "Contemporary Bahaman" cottage which they have aptly named "the shed" out on Stradbrooke Island.
The team at Arkhefield have managed to strip back this brief to the real essence of what the client was after. Conviviality and family togetherness were the clients true request and the flexibility of the hoses and its communal spaces are what makes the house such a wonderful island retreat.
Architect: Arkhefield [AF employees] - Director, Andrew Gutteridge
Project/Design Architect: Simon Wynn
Project Team: Justin Boland, Julie Tomaszewski
Building Surveyor: Bennett & Francis
Construction completed: July 2006
Hydraulic: BRW Enterprises
Interior Designer: Arkhefield
Landscape: JW Concepts
Structural: McVeigh Consulting Engineers / Steel House Frames Australia
Structure and Frame: Steel House Frames Australia
Builder: Clarke Construction (Kelwyn Cassidy, Steven Parker)
Gross floor area: 355 m2
Project cost per square metre: Client wishes this to be kept confidential
Photography: Scott Burrows