Form and Function
Room 11 D’entrecasteaux House
Bruny Island, TAS, Australia
The D’entrecasteaux House is designed 'from within', an uncompromising feat of design that enhances the sense of place on Tasmania's wild remote Bruny Island.
Situated on a stark Bruny Island hillside, the D’entrecasteaux House by Room 11 Architects is thoughtfully designed ‘from within’ to gain the devastating panoramas of the eponymous D’entrecasteaux Channel below.
Architect Thomas Baily says the house is like it is ‘because of where it is’ – heightening the experience of place is fundamental to the design, and the extremes of intense heat and dire cold, in combination with the strong winds sweeping across the channel, mean that the house is uniquely born of its environment.
Practically speaking, this manifests in attention to passive solar principles, with living areas oriented north to ‘hold the heat’ and ‘find the light’. Thermal strategies are simple and sensible. Large sliding glass doors enable natural ventilation during the heat of the summer months, and the courtyard wraps around the house to provide protection against the prevailing winds blowing from across the water.
While the weather extremes of the site create vast challenges, the island also offers a great deal of opportunity. Ultimately, the extraordinary beauty of the view and landscape define the design. The house is thus very much designed ‘from within’, as a space from which to view the raw natural beauty.
The D’Entrecasteaux Channel is a consistently evolving and glistening presence within the experience of the residence. The water’s dynamic company is the defining element of the overarching design – all glazing is bespoke, and the design of apertures carefully considers both what is included and what is excluded. Expanses of glass are positioned to capture views of water but omit neighbouring homes, with walls operating as screens blocking any non-natural structures from sight.
In all things, the experience of the home for the inhabitants takes precedence over pretensions of style. The black interior is designed to provide relief from the blisteringly bright Tasmanian light, and the house and courtyard’s non-orthogonal relationships create a deck, two courtyards and an entry area between the house and the walls. In this way, a variety of protected outdoor spaces exist – and can be used depending on the season and weather.
Glass is one the key materials in the house, both in capturing the view and acting as a sleek counterpoint to the rough-hewn natural stone walls. The choice of stone as a construction material is also significant. One of the clients is a geologist and Tasmania is renowned for its 180-million-year-old dolerite. In the stark, harsh environment of the island, the stone provides security and gravitas, necessary for remote living.
The D’Entrecasteaux House is a feat of design that overcomes and works in tune with the extensive challenges of the site. Ultimately, the challenges posed by the remoteness and extremes of nature are critical to the essence of the house, uncompromising in its goal of heightening the experience of place in the Tasmanian wilderness.