Those who yearn for a slow, meaningful life need to create a nesting abode like the Balnarring Retreat. The ultimate man cave, yoga retreat, study nook, this woodland masterpiece has been specifically designed to easily transform to suit the needs of the owners. The humble building by Branch Studio Architects. just took out the title, New House Under 200m2 Award during the Houses Awards 2017, proving that small spaces can pack a mighty punch!
During the initial discussion with the client, it was made clear that the dwelling should be non-specific in form, yet flexible in function. Meaning, it can perform a swift transformation from a reading room to a knitting studio to a yoga practice area to a warm welcome area when called for.
In response to the provision, Branch Studio Architects have created a space that can be isolated or merged together using low-tech components. Every wall erected in the house keeps a hush-hush facility — components that can be manually folded, opened and closed. In doing so, the manipulation of the space is easily achieved.
Here lies the south wall which contains the fold away bed, an uncomplicated desk, general storage area, bookshelves, and a concealed air conditioner holder.
Towards the east is the room with a wall which contains a series of flaps that you can unfold and modify to create a long table for a family dinner perhaps. On the weekends, it can be the mini-bar that can hold your drinks while you talk and laugh the night away.
The kitchen is housed in the west wing of the building. That area also holds the main work space where you can setup your study space or home office by, you’ve guessed, folding down a flap. Large concertina doors can hide your desk mess from guests that you may be touring around the house. Somewhere in the room is a hidden door that leads to the bathroom.
If you’re acquainted with the works of the Branch Studio Architects, you’ll sense a weirdly familiar style when you see the open air shower. The copper industrial shower head and faucet, the concrete walls, the circular mirrors and lack of roof… they all echo the mood of A Pavilion Between Trees bath. That dwelling was also a Houses Awards 2017 Winner, for the House Alteration and Addition Under 200m2 Category.
Sure, you can hire home automation experts to enable a button to do all the manual work for you, but this is not the kind of lifestyle that the owners were searching for. It’s the mindful manipulation of their territorial area that they’re after. Rather than being the master of the space, they’ve fully embraced the concept of slowing down and enjoying the purposefully Lo-Fi retreat for what it is, a truly idyllic space.
The ability to connect with the environment has been central to the design process. It was taken so seriously that even the croaking of the frogs, the paddles of the ducks and water birds, and the dances of the water reflections have been carefully considered in the design.
Contemporary living is a silent thief, it robs you of your time, years and years of your time if you’re unlucky. It’s an absolute grace to have an honest dwelling where you can go slow and commune with everything non-tech. Balnarring Retreat embodies such a place. It’s a beautifully constructed reminder that you don’t need much space and technology to revel in the splendid parts of life.
For more house inspo, check out the winners of the Houses Awards 2017!
Photography by Peter Clarke Photography.