Gidgegannup Bush Retreat

A home designed to get the family back to nature.

The Gidgegannup Bush Retreat was borne out of our clients’ desire for an escape from their daily urban life. As you emerge from the lush Gidgegannup forest, the dual-wing home appears as a timber refuge in the clearing. The home is offset to the elevated end of a sloping block, providing them with a view across a rural paddock and the bushland beyond it.

Client priorities

Upon entering, the living areas of the home are contained in the structure to the left An open plan kitchen, dining and living area opens to a covered alfresco, and an expansive deck area with a firepit and built in BBQ. There is a secondary wing to the right which is connected by a covered walkway. This contains the private areas of the home. There are three bedrooms, each with built-in-robes, a laundry, powder room, and bathroom adjacent to an outdoor shower.

 

On the block is a small shed / studio separate from the house.

The focus of the home was to create a relaxing place for entertaining that prioritises communal interactions. The individual private areas are separated into a different wings, encouraging the inhabitants to remain in the communal spaces and promoting more time spent together.

The brief was to create a holiday house on a farm in Gidgegannup. It was to be a place to take their young family on weekends to get away from city life. The primary focus of the house was to create living and outdoor spaces that bring the family together in a relaxing environment. To do this, we maximised views of the surrounding nature from both the indoor and outdoor spaces.

The bedroom wing was developed as a separate pod to the living areas so that if the owners decided to entertain guests the kids could sleep without being disturbed. Sustainability was also a high priority for our clients, thus for example, a lot of natural timbers were used. As the home was in a fire-prone area the timbers selected were fire-resistant, and pre-burnt.

Challenges
As the project was in a rural location, we designed the home to be modular for ease of construction. However, site access was also very difficult, which meant that we had to complete a highly accurate site access assessment. The design was informed by what size modules could fit through these access points.

The secondary challenge was to address the orientation of the house. Ideally, the largest aspect of the house should face north for the best lighting and energy performance. However, the best views of the property were to the south. Prioritising views we oriented large windows to the south from the living area and bedrooms. T

 

This meant that the north side of the home faced uphill and had fewer windows. One advantage of orienting the building to the south is that we could include expansive windows without fear of the building overheating. Additionally, as the skillion roof angles down towards the back of the home, the roof is perfectly oriented for solar panels.

To combat the reduced sunlight of a south-oriented building, we included highlight windows on the northern side of the house that will capture the winter sun. These will also allow for cross-flow ventilation in summer.

Sustainable Features

With no mains access to the site, this home is completely self-sufficient. It generates its own power and collects and stores its own water. An off-grid solar solution was installed, consisting of a 9kW solar PV system, a 8.2kW inverter, and a 24kWh battery bank. The cost of this off-grid system was equivalent to the cost of a Western Power run in to the property, so it cost nothing extra.

 

The house was predominantly built with timber, including the structure and cladding. All windows are double glazed to minimise heat transfer. Rammed earth was also used, with the product materials being pulled up from the site.

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