At Home Amongst the Tree Canopy – Bundeena House by RAA Architects
Bundeena, NSW, Australia

Architecture RAA Architects
Words Bronwyn Marshall

Imagined as a treehouse of sorts, sitting naturally amongst the surrounding tree canopies Bundeena House subtly retreats into the landscape. RAA Architects’ use of warm timber blurs the line between the built and the natural.

Sitting naturally amongst the trees on its sloping site, Bundeena House was initially intended to be an occasional home, with the coastal location providing the inspiration for its materiality and immersion in nature. Over the course of the build, however, the client made the house their permanent address, embracing its location and the home’s reflection of their values. RAA Architects brings to the project a series of contextual sensibilities, through the use of warm timber throughout, the lightweight temperance of the structure and the effortless approach to the transition between the natural and the built worlds. The architects’ clear and acute understanding of the site has resulting in a retreating home that anchors to its terrain.

The entirety of the home sits below street level, allowing uninterrupted views over the house by its neighbours, and optimises its sloping site to create a stepped formation.

Built by Join Constructions with joinery by ITF Cabinet Making + Joinery, Bundeena House takes shape as two forms combined – a simplified rectangle and a right-angled triangle. As the two geometries converge on site, their separating roof structures, held up from the walls through fully extending glazing, enable a floating appearance to emerge. The entirety of the home sits below street level, allowing uninterrupted views over the house by its neighbours, and optimises its sloping site to create a stepped formation. The clear and direct visual connection from the interior to the exterior stands as a reminder of place, reinforcing the location of the home.

Sitting naturally amongst the trees on its sloping site, Bundeena House was initially intended to be an occasional home, with the coastal location providing the inspiration for its materiality and immersion in nature

Internally clad in a singular material, birch ply, the feel within is one connected to nature.

Across its staggered floor plate, the volumes sit lightly on the earth, held up by long and thin supporting structural posts. Developed with van der Meer Consulting, the structural integrity of this owner-builder home is the product of many intrenched and intelligent working systems. A 6.8KW solar power system takes care of the home’s energy requirements, and it currently sits as energy-positive, ensuring a continued supply. Internally clad in a singular material, birch ply, the feel within is one connected to nature. The timber lining has a natural effect of warming the space, while the timber floors add an element of durability.

RAA Architects’ use of warm timber blurs the line between the built and the natural.

RAA Architects has proposed a site-specific solution immersed within nature, and in doing so, has created a permanent haven amongst the trees.

Bundeena House is a study of retreat, and the treehouse-like structure sits lightly, not impeding on its neighbours or the site. Its interplay with the natural elements and the invitation of natural light and the surrounding canopies inward further creates the sense that the home is cradled within the trees. RAA Architects has proposed a site-specific solution immersed within nature, and in doing so, has created a permanent haven amongst the trees.

Across its staggered floor plate, the volumes sit lightly on the earth, held up by long and thin supporting structural posts.

Published 9 May, 2020
Photography  Michael Nicholson
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