The Balnarring Retreat was deliberately designed as a ‘blank space’, within which the owners could curate a variety of different experiences. Director of Branch Studio Architects, Nicholas Russo explains his team worked to create a finely crafted retreat that could ‘switch between a nondescript shell of possibility, to a fully functioning private residence.’
The space demanded flexibility and adaptability, to ensure the design felt resolved under all conditions of activity – from knitting studio, to home office, weekend getaway, yoga studio and Christmas Day lunch celebrations!
Nicholas describes the strategy for The Retreat as ‘deliberately lo-fi’, and embracing of a low-tech lifestyle. All of the functions of the space are concealed in the walls, with integrated components folding out to transform the space as needed. The south wall contains a fold-away bed, desk, bookshelves, and air conditioner, and the east wall hides away a long table. The west wall houses the kitchen (yes, a whole kitchen hidden in there!) workspace, and concealed entrance to the bathroom, while the glazed north wall sits above the sunken day bed (hidden by plywood boxes when not in use).
While this might sound like an intense act of transformation, Nicholas explains ‘at the heart of it all, the underlying theme was the idea of retreat, a slow-moving space that would provide a refuge from the hectic pace of modern life.’ All this, of course, is complemented by the breathtaking location, and the home’s unique placement on the site, hovering gently over the water edge, providing a unique connection to place.