In the Outback, you need a home that's tough, like The Box House designed in part by the late Nick Murcutt. This robust home started life as nothing more than a tent, but Murcutt helped transform it into a 20-foot timber cube that provides safe haven over 300 miles away from Sydney. Glazed on one side to provide insulation, and clad in recycled hardwood on the other, the home is peppered with square windows and movable shutters that help to animate the building when someone is home. There was a time when water, electricity, and even a bathroom weren't available, but the home has slowly evolved into a very cool living space complete with all the modern amenities one might want.
Among the home’s numerous sustainable features is a rainwater collection system that feeds back into the house from an elevated tank. The bathroom is still outside in a storage shed topped with solar panels, while the owners opt for a campfire to do most of their cooking. Inside the house there is no insulation or finish of any kind; instead, the timber framing has been left exposed to create a barn-like atmosphere.
In order to reduce its environmental impact and presumably keep out as many snakes and insects as possible, the house was built on raised concrete piers. Even further from the ground is a second-floor sleeping loft accessible by ladder. Small windows, large windows, and sliding glass doors ensure the property is always flooded with light – giving the sensation of living outside.
Nick Murcutt completed the project in 2002, after which he went on to found Neeson Murcutt Architects with his wife in 2004. Sadly, he died a few years later from lung cancer, but the Box House is testament to his work. It was completed using only a wish-list from the client, photographs, and a site survey. Even without being able to visit the site, Murcutt was able to build a warm and welcoming home that handles the challenges of the outback with ease.
Images by Brett Boardman