The nature shack
This modular holiday house proves smaller is better when out in the bush.
You don’t need much on a bush holiday. A view and a place to rest your head is often comfort enough when seeking a nature escape.
With this in mind Adelaide’s C4 Architects have designed a modular and transportable house that measures just 90 square metres. The prototype SuperShak sits behind sand dunes at Vivonne Bay, a remote windswept settlement on South Australia’s Kangaroo Island.
For architect Brent Dowsett sustainable design is about opening the house to nature. “Sustainability should mean more than just water and power usage, it’s primarily about enjoying the place that we live,” he says. “We wanted a house designed to intensify the relationship with the Australian bush.” The raking ceiling opens up a view to the sky via clerestory windows, while at eye-level the toughened-glass windows look out to a unique native coastal scrub environment.
While the broad, angled roof gives the house its sky views and winter sun access, its slant also provides some protection from bushfires. It sits low on the north-west, the likely direction of a bushfire, with a large screen offering further protection on that side. The roof is extended for better rainwater catchment, with 20,000 litres of the 60,000 litre capacity set aside for firefighting.
This house is designed to a fairly high Bushfire Attack Level, BAL 29*, but the kit of building materials can also meet the higher BAL 40 and BAL FZ ratings. The fibre cement sheet floor looks like concrete and suits the wear and tear of a holiday house, but is also one of the more flameproof building materials around.
The layout is flexible and based around a rectangular main living area; its long thin shape lends itself to a warming north-facing orientation on any block to gain the winter sun, and ensures the hot western front is only narrow. The bedroom modules, however many are ordered, are bolted to the main rectangle onsite. They’re protected from the sun on the south side of this beach house, and benefit from cooling sea breezes on hot nights.
At the end of the day the house is designed to be opened like a tent. “It heats up so quickly,” says Brent. “You can have the fire going and the doors open and you’ve got that feeling of being on a camping holiday.”
* BALs range from BAL-Low, where no additional building elements are required, through to BAL-12.5 to BAL-FZ.
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