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A Floating House Entangled In Brush Box Trees On North Stradbroke Island

Architecture

One could assume this house has been on North Stradbroke Island for many years—its walls slowly enveloped by towering trees planted around its perimeter.

In fact, the opposite is true. When recently designing the contemporary home, architects Conrad Gargett worked to retain as many of the existing brush box trees as possible, by weaving the new house around its established canopy. 

Taking precedence over the ocean views beyond (that may be lost over time as the foreshore vegetation matures), the remaining trees are close enough to touch, creating a home immersed in nature.

25th November, 2022

Timbin House is a new home by Conrad Gargett located on North Stradbroke Island. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones

Drawn to the extensive vegetation rather than the views to the ocean, the clients brief asked for an experience like camping amongst the trees, but without the tent. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones

Architects Conrad Gargett were engaged to design a new house on the vacant block, placing its established brush box trees at the forefront. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones

Conrad Gargett navigated as many of the existing trees as possible by taking a 3D point cloud scan, folding the house around its trunks to create its unique shape. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones

The heart of the home is the middle level, described by Conrad Gargett as a living platform floating within the tree canopy. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones

‘My favourite element would have to be the shape of the house and how it folds around the trees. Sitting on the corner balcony, you can see along both the eastern and northern façades and really appreciate the boomerang folding of the balustrade and the concrete and how it sits so nicely with the trees,’ says architect John Flynn, project director at Conrad Gargett. Photos – Christopher Frederick Jones

A recessed ground level bedrooms and concrete structure allows the upper level floor and roof to be as thin as possible, while an external spiral stair provides access to a rooftop deck with 360-degree ocean views. Photos – Christopher Frederick Jones

Brass finishes were selected to patina over time in the salt air. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones

Leafy views from the ground floor bath. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones

Amelia Barnes
Friday 25th November 2022

‘It is like you are up in the trees, watching the birdlife and the whales and waves in the distance. It’s a pretty special space.’ – John Flynn

The site of this North Stradbroke Island house has beach views, but the owners (three families who have been friends for over 50 years) were most taken with its surrounding leafy landscape.

Architects Conrad Gargett were engaged to design a new house on the vacant block, placing its established brush box trees at the forefront.

The vision was for the house to feel like camping among the trees—minus the tent. ‘A really simple space to live in and when the doors are open and the breezes are blowing through,’ in the words of architect John Flynn, project director at Conrad Gargett.

Over 20 different design options were explored, starting with three shacks, then two houses, before settling on the larger house that exists today. 

Conrad Gargett navigated as many of the existing trees as possible by taking a 3D point cloud scan and folding the house around to create its unique shape.

‘It was a very involved process. We spent a lot of time on site measuring trees, working out which we could save and what was the best view,’ says John.

The heart of the home is the middle level, described by Conrad Gargett as a living platform floating within the tree canopy. A recessed ground level and concrete structure allows the upper level floor and roof to be as thin as possible, while an external spiral stair provides access to a rooftop deck with 360-degree ocean views.

The house is designed to resist winds up to 300 kilometres per hour to suit its headland location, while robust external materials respond to its bushfire prone position. Concrete helps achieve these requirements, with brush box timber veneer within to match the trees, and brass finishes selected to patina over time in the salt air. 

‘For the cladding, we tested several different shades of brown paint to find the right colour that would blend in with the brush box trees,’ says John. 

The completed house is so immersed in nature that kookaburras are known to land on the kitchen bench, kangaroos take shelter from the rain under the cantilevered foundations, and even koalas climb through the windows! 

‘It is like you are up in the trees, watching the birdlife and the whales and waves in the distance. It’s a pretty special space,’ says John. 

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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