Sheltered from the Roaring Forties by the Tasmanian mainland, Bruny Island is nevertheless brutally exposed to the elements. It is one of those places of unfathomable natural beauty that resonates in a way that anchors you to the land whilst simultaneously evoking the idea that you really are at the very ends of the earth.
In 2016, Hobart based architects Room11 completed a residence ensconced within the stunning aspect of Bruny Islands Apollo Bay which, although surrounded on three sides by gently sloping rural landscape, is exposed to the weather rolling in over the D’Entrecasteaux Channel which separates it from the Tasmanian mainland. Buffeted by winds and assaulted by the starkness of the Australian sun, the site for D’Entrecasteaux House informed the projects design development, with equal consideration given to ensuring the privacy of its inhabitants.
The resulting 220m2 residence appears at first glance to be so perfectly embedded within its landscape that the surrounding dolerite stone walls, which should be imposing, are instead beautifully coherent to the site’s context. The modest house seems like it has simply always been there and will always remain, a sentiment no doubt induced by the 180 million-year-old indigenous material used to construct its outer walls. The synergy between the stone and glass elevations of the house and the reflected coastal scenery creates a seamless aesthetic within the angled terrain. The houses’ solidity envelopes its inhabitants in privacy and calm, whilst overlooking a devastating panorama across the expansive water plane.
The residences footprint employs an inflected, non-orthogonal plan, with the massive stone walls encompassing light-drenched, timber-lined living spaces.
D’Entrecasteaux House employs a non-orthogonal footprint.
Bespoke face-fixed glazing details frame the exterior views beyond and offer an opportunity for repose.
The interior timber has been stained black to intentionally provide relief from the suns blinding luminance on the surrounding grassy landscape. Offsetting the pale stone skin of the building, this materiality also introduces an element of secluded calm to the living spaces and acts as the perfect backdrop for the bespoke face-fixed glazing details that frame the exterior views beyond, offering an opportunity for repose. Aligned with this concept of celebrating the landscape and inducing calm within, service functions are contained in shiny black boxes, kitchen joinery is fully integrated with the same black stained timber, and large skylights have been inserted into the bathroom areas to lend an airy atmosphere and permit an abundance of natural light. The inhabitants’ experience of the houses interior volumes has been carefully addressed through the use of double width mirrors and full height tiling, drastically increasing the perceived spaces within.
D’Entrecasteaux House’s considered orientation allows for privacy and protection whilst addressing the needs of a young family. Both the pared back interior spaces, as well as the large areas dedicated to the courtyard and deck, enshroud inhabitants within the properties stone perimeter away from the buffeting offshore winds. The walled outdoor spaces act as a threshold between the residences boundary and the environment beyond. Blurring the lines between interior and exterior and creating shelter against the elements even from the outdoor areas.
Kitchen joinery is fully integrated in black stained timber ensuring the landscape beyond remains the feature even from the interior spaces.
D’Entrecasteaux House’s celebration of its stunning aspect is multi faceted.
In its design development, D’Entrecasteaux House has established a dialogue between two key areas of the client brief; to protect inhabitants from its often harsh environmental aspect, whilst celebrating the utterly unique setting it quietly sits within. The house takes the very challenges of its site and elevates them so successfully that they essentially become its most beautiful and polarising elements.
Room 11 can be contacted on +61 3 6224 8642.
Images by Ben Hosking.
Words by Tiffany Jade.