Bellbird Retreat

Steendijk

 

Bellbird Retreat is a weekend escape to a stunning rural setting. At 67sqm this modest dwelling sits in a nature bushland reserve and encourages a dialogue between man-made and natural environments. 

With a site susceptible to devastating bushfires, the desire to provide broad eaves unaffected by fire embers and providing protection from the harsh Australian sun, inspired the resulting solid steel roof. Custom designed and fabricated from weathering steel, the roof corrugations provide structural capacity to allow a single span with unsupported cantilevered eaves, eliminating combustible timber rafters for this strict fire resistant building type.

On approach Bellbird Retreat appears fortress-like with the steel roof crowning three pivoting brick blades. The oxidised roof resonates with the deep orange of the adjacent gum trees. The austere visual mass of the blade walls ties the dwelling inextricably to the site while sheltering the building from wind, sun and fire with a pixelated textural brick treatment. 

The roof form is a twisting plane that responds to topographical site features; rising up the near mountain top, and tipping down to shelter and reduce solar gain to glass. A concrete floor slab cantilevers to provide an impromptu seat and to discourage wildlife from readily accessing the interior spaces.

The interior is simple and sparse. Local pine walls and ceiling radiate a rich golden hue. Monolithical brick blade walls are carried through to the interior. Triangles of the roof sheeting penetrate through the glass line and dissolve the distinction between interior and exterior, as does a modest open living space featuring curved glass and a cantilevered corner window which peels back to take in the breathtaking northern views. Balancing extremes inspired open yet protected architectural spaces, and rural yet refined material tectonics. Sustainability is crutial on this remote site with water and electricity harvested on site.

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