The site was a 108-acre property in the hills near Kempsey on the Mid-North Coast, five hours by road north of Sydney or two hours by air and road. The private clients had spent several years camping and walking over the property and had formed two clearings in the centre; one intended for a house and the other in which to construct a dam. The site was completely unserviced. The brief was to masterplan development of the site for a sustainable weekend retreat consisting of a house, garage, bathhouse and a leisure area adjacent to the dam, allowing for the phasing of this development.
The building would clearly be modest given budget constraints and we were to be responsible for a full service including sourcing builders and carrying out site inspections. The design response is an economical ‘shed’ featuring a combined living / dining / kitchen with separate bedroom. The building orientates along the contours of the site to achieve structural economies and address the views.
It is self-sufficient utilising solar power; bottled LPG gas for hot-water & cooking with water supplied from a tank collecting roof water and sewerage handled using a composting toilet. Located in the centre of the top clearing to provide desirable setbacks from denser bush to give protection from bush-fires, building orientation was established to provide the major views from all rooms down the slope east towards the dam, which is the focal point of the site. The long glazed facade on the high side of the house is orientated east towards the dam.
Passive solar penetration was encouraged by high-level polycarbonate glazing on the short northern façade with appropriate overhangs for shading. The western façade has smaller shuttered openings to moderate heat gain but allow good cross-ventilation. The building is designed to form a strong dialogue with the surrounding bush.
The interior features large sliding openings to the eastern view to allow beneficial sun penetration with high ceilings and an outdoor deck to increase the feeling of space generated from a modest budget and plan form. The ceiling is painted white to reflect light and contrast with the hoop-pine wall lining. Kitchen and storage cabinets run along the rear wall to keep the main space as simple and uncluttered as possible.
Barribunma Weekender Kempsey NSW
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