If you asked an architect to design your dream home, you probably wouldn’t expect them to design a tent. Of course, this is no ordinary tent (being made from material manufactured in France, engineered in Australia, and put together in Manila in the Philippines for $150,000) but it is the central element of this unique house by Sparks Architects.
This project was inspired by similar homes designed by the late Australian architect Gabriel Poole, who Dan Sparks, director of Sparks Architects, worked with for six years. ‘Gabriel’s own Tent House and similar projects certainly introduced me to the beauty of simple living environments with a lightweight structure and stripped back materiality,’ Dan says. The architect had worked with this type of structure before in commercial projects, but never in a residential context. ‘We wanted to explore the notion of a camp in a clearing… Albeit one which could fall back to a more conventional notion of shelter when needed,’ Dan says.
If there were ever a place to explore this idea, it would have to be this Noosa Hinterland site. The Verrierdale block is the only clearing located in a protected zone (the land came with an old planning permit that was signed off before restrictions came in), and is surrounded by dense, lush rainforest.
To suit the site’s climatic conditions and bushfire requirements, Dan designed the home to feature two distinct modes: one where the roof and walls are open and the house becomes a platform under a tent, and the other where these elements are closed and the space is an insulated box. Sliding screens throughout the home further allow for a number of variations between these two conditions.
The Fabritecture made tent is not merely an aesthetic feature, but also a functional one that facilitates air movement throughout the home. ‘As the hot air rises and slides along and up the underside of the tent, new cooler air from low in the rainforest is drawn into and across the internal spaces,’ explains Dan. The tent can also be lit up to attract insects up and away from the internal spaces, ridding the rooms of mosquitoes and moths in the process.
This project wasn’t without its challenges. For one, the sliding roof meant many services and fittings normally contained in the ceiling needed to be rethought, requiring a team effort from the builder (Jaicon Constructions), plumber and electrician. Due to the unknown and untested elements of the design, the banks also valued the home at less than it cost to build.
Fortunately, it was all worth it. Inside is a relatively intimate home that allows its family occupants to connect with one another, while feeling totally immersed in the incredible rainforest surrounds.
This takes ‘glamping’ to a whole new level!