An Immersive Wilderness Experience - The Retreat by JAWS Architects at Pumphouse Point
Lake St Clair, TAS, Australia
Taking its cues from the pristine natural environment of the Wilderness World Heritage Area in which it rests, the project was designed to orchestrate and enhance the experience of retreat. On approach down the landscape path, the timber-clad structure is inscrutable, a closed face of rough-sawn verticle boards set on a dark plinth. The low, dim entrance creates a sense of compression akin to a burrow, denying views and giving no indication of what lies within. The expansive views of the lake are gradually revealed only after one enters, drawn up the stairs by filtered light from the north-facing windows softly glowing at the top of the stairs.
Once inside, the full impact of both the location and the architecture is felt. Expanses of glazing capture the ever-changing vista of Lake St Clair and the pumphouse through the trees beyond. The light-filled lounge, dining and kitchenette beckon one inside, speaking of the simple pleasures of curling up with a book, partaking of the Tasmanian fare in the fully-stocked larder, relaxing with a glass of wine or a cocktail from the bar, or simply taking in the subtle changes of light and weather across the water.
The timber-paneled interior creates a warm and protective atmosphere that contrasts with the scale of the views and landscape outside, contributing to the atmosphere of retreat. Sleeping quarters are at once connected yet slightly removed from the lounge, creating a sense of being cocooned within the space, while in the bathroom views are again denied to focus inward on the experience of bathing in the luxurious bathtub, with skylights and lightwells connecting guests to the sky and earth. The one exception is the shower, where a frameless glass window captures the view.
The Retreat was envisioned as an immersive wilderness experience and JAWS Architects carefully curated each element of the interior design, with rich layers of materiality, texture and tones inspired by the setting. The dappled rocks, painterly bark, tactile moss, and the unpredictability of the lake set the tone of the interior language for the wallpaper, fabric, furniture, handmade basins, and soft furnishings. Furniture crafted by local maker Simon Ancher and the handmade basin set by Hobart ceramicist Lindsey Wherrett emphasise a connection with place and create a true experience of exclusivity, grounded in the sense that every item in The Retreat has been personally made for this one space.
Offering a private space of retreat in one of the world’s most beautiful wilderness settings, The Retreat writes its own definition of luxury. Here, luxury is undoubtedly found in the space’s numerous ‘creature comforts’. Yet perhaps more meaningfully, the true luxury of The Retreat is in the depth and subtlety of the experience, where every detail has been designed to enhance a sense of place.