Bruny Island Hideaway by Maguire + Devine Architects
Bruny Island, TAS, Australia
“New architecture is an extension of the wider city or landscape. It connects us to the places in which we spend our lives. It connects us to the wider community and to the environment. It allows us to appreciate our surroundings, to feel the sun, hear the rain and smell the bush, to capture the long views to distant water or hills.” – Dan Devine
Nearing the southern-most tip of Tasmania lies it’s small but fierce accomplice named Bruny Island. It is a place of rugged coast line and wilderness. Where there is nothing but ocean between the south coast and Antarctica. Separated from Tasmania by the D’Entrecasteaux Channel where one can view the lights of Aurora Australis. A place where nature is at its purest, and being there is being with nature to observe it in all its majesty. The township of Alonnah is located on the west coast of Bruny Island and is the site of Maguire + Devine Architects’ project, Bruny Island Hideaway. A project modest in stature, but grand in character and connection to its natural environment.
This off-grid modern-day log cabin draws inspiration from the client’s past, who was born in Taiwan and grew up experiencing Japanese architecture built during the occupation. Through this, she developed a strong love for minimalist design and envisioned a holiday home where “stuff” would not clutter her time of relaxation. The brief was to “design a building as a piece of furniture,” in which all furniture was to be built in, aside from the low dining table and mattress in the loft bedroom. The Hobart based firm of Maguire + Devine Architects, consisting of Hugh Maguire, Dan Devine and Rob Maver were the perfect selection to deliver this concept based on their combined experience and genuine appreciation for the design of small spaces.
The Bruny Island Hideaway by Maguire + Devine Architects is a project modest in stature, but grand in character and connection to its natural environment.
Maguire states, “If the first principle of sustainability is to reserve the earth’s resources for future generations then we should build less; building well and only what is needed. Like a favourite piece of furniture, this highly crafted cabin will be loved and preserved.” Bruny Island Hideaway is a highly considered response to the client’s desire for a place of effortless retreat. A refuge providing all she needs on her 99 acres of bushland to enjoy the simple pleasures of reading, playing violin and star gazing.
As one enters the grassy meadow, a first glimpse of the cabin evokes a sense of sanctuary and comfort. The freestanding entrance pergola with stores of firewood suggest many hours of contentment by the fireplace with a book and glass of wine; passing through its threshold defines the moment of submission to that pace.
Measuring at just 28m², Bruny Island Hideaway may be small, but every corner is carefully designed to its highest potential, ensuring the open plan living/kitchen/dining area a spaciousness that is impressive for its volume.
Timber decks extend to the east and west of the cabin and allow for ample opportunity to soak up morning and afternoon sun, they are deliberately low enough to remove the obstruction of balustrades and provide additional outdoor seating. Full-height sliding doors, with an opacity similar to Japanese rice paper screens, multiply the scale of the home by opening it up to the expansive landscape around. Maguire describes, “The transformation of the space when the frameless sliding doors are open is dramatic. With both doors open the cabin space feels more like a basic shelter in a wider landscape.”
As one enters the grassy meadow, a first glimpse of the cabin evokes a sense of sanctuary and comfort.
A transition of dark to blonde timber upon entering the cabin indicates you have stepped into a gentle place of calm. The palette of the interior bares many similarities to the external landscape. This carries the eye outward and gives the illusion that the space extends into the surrounding nature, not confined to the structure of the building. Sculpting all the built-in joinery with similarly matched timber makes it possible to observe the subtle forms they create within the space. Nested upstairs is the loft bedroom that serves as an even more private nook of sublime solitude.
Taking only what it needs, Bruny Island Hideaway runs self-sufficiently to provide an ideal habitat where temperature is passively regulated through the open doors to the heightened ceiling void; the central baker’s oven heats the cabin fuelled by fallen timber from the site; concealed underground tanks are used to collect clean drinking water, and the steep north-facing roof is optimally pitched for solar panels to collect energy and natural light into the skylight.
Timber decks extend to the east and west of the cabin and allow for ample opportunity to soak up morning and afternoon sun.
The minimalist principles displayed throughout this design encourage a lifestyle that is simplistic and intentional. Everything serves a purpose as enhancement to a holistic environment of wellness. Oh, and the outdoor tub probably wouldn’t hurt either….