A Dream Transformed: From Weekender to Home
Nature meets modern living in the picturesque Margaret River bushland of Western Australia. Located just three hours south of Perth, the Treehouse residence, designed by Suzanne Hunt Architect (SHA), seamlessly combines natural beauty and contemporary design. Elevated on stilts, this home was created for a couple looking for a semi-permanent country house that complements their city cottage.
The Treehouse Residence, a single-level timber-framed house, was designed with aging in mind. Its exterior is clad in fire-resistant Spotted Gum timber, with vertically laid weatherboard panels that mimic the diameter of the surrounding trees. Corten steel panels frame the entry, while BlueScope Colourbond roofing and locally sourced Margaret River stone wrap the exterior, blending the structure with its environment.
Suzanne Hunt Architects faced various challenges and opportunities when designing this unique residence. These included meeting a Flame Zone (FZ) Bushfire Assessment Level, adhering to local planning parameters, and dealing with the absence of mains water, sewerage, and limited power supply. To protect the local flora and fauna, the architects undertook careful undergrowth clearing and tree planting, achieving a BAL 29 fire rating. The architects also made a conscious effort to preserve the ancient Jarrah, Karri, and Marri trees that initially attracted the owners.
In addition to these considerations, the team also sought to pay homage to the land’s aboriginal heritage. They acknowledged the traditional custodians of the aboriginal lands and recognized that aboriginal sovereignty was never ceded.
Inside the Treehouse residence, Suzanne Hunt Architect created a thoughtful layout. The east-west orientation features two bedroom wings connected by a central living hub and a large garage. The private wing, nestled among the treetops, offers a snug, a main bedroom with breathtaking views, and an ensuite complete with an outdoor shower on a floating deck. To the east, the secondary wing houses additional bedrooms and a shared bathroom for guests. Large sliding doors can be closed for energy efficiency and privacy.
The central living area of the Treehouse residence caters to the couple’s love for entertaining friends and family. It boasts a spacious kitchen, a generous island bench, ample built-in joinery, a central dining table, and a cozy lounge area centered around a wood-burning fireplace. Tall, narrow windows to the west frame captivating views of the natural landscape.
Environmental sustainability is at the heart of this residence. It boasts a 90,000-liter water tank, an Advanced Treatment Unit (ATU) for sewage, 12 kW of solar PV with batteries, passive solar ventilation, and optimal orientation. With the ability to live off-grid, the Treehouse Residence is designed to thrive in all seasons.
Drawing inspiration from the British television series “The Good Life,” the homeowners have also embraced sustainable living. They have cultivated an impressive vegetable patch, providing fresh produce for themselves and their loved ones. Additionally, they source local produce and seafood from the nearby beach. In an effort to restore the site’s natural habitat, they have planted over 2,000 local native species, with a landscape design that incorporates natural rock creeks to manage water on the sloping terrain.
Elevated on stilts in certain sections, the Treehouse Residence delicately occupies the land, adapting to its steeply sloping site. This dream transformed from a weekender to a permanent home is a testament to the harmonious relationship between architecture and nature.
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