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A Farmer’s Tiny Copper-Clad Getaway!

Architecture

Casey Brown Architecture completed ‘Permanent Camping’ in 2007 – a pint-sized, copper-clad retreat on a Mudgee property.

A farmer took note of the project, and dreamt he’d one day have a similar cabin of his own. 13 years later, that dream became a reality.  

Located in Berry, Permanent Camping II is a modified version of the original design created with the same collaborator, Jeffrey Broadfield, alongside local builder, Smith and Primmer

18th May, 2021

 ‘Permanent Camping Two’ comprises two tiny copper towers looking out to the ocean in Berry, NSW. Photo – Andrew Loiterton

The cabin is a new and improved version of a 2007 project in Mudgee by Casey Brown Architecture. Photos – Andrew Loiterton

The architects describe it as a retreat with ‘everything you need and nothing you don’t need.’ Photo – Andrew Loiterton

Internally the structure is crafted in ironbark with a wood burning fireplace, copper kitchen basin and under floor storage. Photos – Andrew Loiterton

Integral to both the new and original design are three external ‘flaps’ that protect the structure. Photo – Andrew Loiterton

Amelia Barnes
Tuesday 18th May 2021

‘A retreat with everything you need, and nothing you don’t need.’ – Casey Brown Architecture

If you’re a longtime reader of design media, this tiny rural retreat may look familiar.  Originally designed by Casey Brown Architecture in Mudgee in 2007, the practice recently designed an updated version of the copper cabin in Berry, on the South Coast on NSW. 

Like its predecessor, the structure is a simple retreat for the owner, whose main house is located on the same acreage. The architects describe it as a retreat with ‘everything you need and nothing you don’t need.’

The new project began by studying the original to see what improvements could be made. ‘The challenge [was] to try and improve on the original design without overcomplicating or taking away from the simplicity of the concept,’ says Rob Brown, director of Casey Brown Architecture. 

While its predecessor was contained to the one structure, the updated concept incorporates a secondary tower immediately to the rear enclosing a composting toilet and shower. East and west-facing outdoor decks have also been added, effectively doubling the ground floor in the process. 

At 3 x 3 metres, the size of the main structure remains the same. On the ground floor is the living space (including facilities to cook, store items, and heat the cabin), while the bedroom is located above (accessible via a ladder). The rooftop with a water tank and solar panels is accessible via an external permanent copper ladder. 

Integral to both the new and original design are three external ‘flaps’ that protect the structure. Rob explains, ‘Permanent Camping Two has movable ‘flaps’ that hinge up when the building is in use, and lower down when not in use, protecting the oiled ironbark interiors from sun, rain and wind…The inspiration was always a flower; how it opens up to the daytime sunshine, yet closes up at night to protect the delicate interior of the flower.’ 

Also returning to the project was craftsman Jeffrey Broadfield, who built the original Mudgee structure. Working with Smith and Primmer, the new building was prefabricated in a barn on site, before being erected on a nearby hill. 

Located some 500 metres from the main house, the cabin is only accessible on foot through paddocks. Its function is only revealed on close inspection as the sides open up and the service tower behind becomes obvious.

Call it what you will – a getaway, a cabin, a retreat, or a permanent tent – Permanent Camping Two is a refined (yet modest!) place to get close to nature, and enjoy simple living. 

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net