When they were first commissioned to create a “Bahaman” seaside cottage on secluded South Stradbroke Island, Brisbane-based Arkhefield was faced with a few interesting challenges. The design had to be livable all year round, made from materials strong enough to withstand the harsh climate conditions, yet remind its inhabitants of memorable vacations spent on exotic islands. The resulting design stands out as a modern, sustainable interpretation of a Bahaman cottage that capitalizes on the site and celebrates volume but is also capable of isolating, re-orienting and shutting down against inclement weather when necessary.
Completed in 2006, the steel frame house opens onto the waterfront with a terrace on the east and onto an enclosed ‘winter courtyard’ on the west. To the north and south, it is closed to retain privacy from the adjacent blocks. The inside of the home is made up of two parts: one includes the communal living spaces while the other contains the private spaces (the bedrooms and service zones)– which is clearly delineated by the strong vertical aesthetic of an exterior bamboo screen.
Choosing a site that would take advantage of solar orientation was an important component of the home’s eco-friendly qualities. In addition to optimal siting of the house, the design team incorporated rainwater harvesting, bamboo cladding/screening, and a thermally efficient monolithic floor slab.
Although without a shingled roof or quaint shuttered windows, the slightly pitched roof of the house pays homage to its Bahaman inspiration. Encouraging interaction in its public spaces when weather permits, the home is lovingly dubbed the ‘shed’ by its owners and inspires breezy, beach living all year around.