Waitpinga Retreat captures coast and country

Flexible: The breezeway separates living zones and is a versatile living space. Photos: Phillip Handforth on BowerBird
Flexible: The breezeway separates living zones and is a versatile living space. Photos: Phillip Handforth on BowerBird

Flexibility and sustainability were the owners' aims when building a rural retreat on an 80 acre property on the Fleurieu coast, south of Adelaide.

Architect Martin Williamson, from Mountford Williamson, said his clients wanted a house which allowed them to escape the city and enjoy their coastal property with their family and friends in a casual and informal setting.

"The design of the house was to provide flexibility, sit comfortably within its bushland setting, and reflect the owner's desire to live sustainably," Martin said.

"Flexibility was the challenge: allowing the house to be used as a one bedroom home at times, and to also open up to house visiting guests."

Martin's solution was to design two zones separated by a breezeway, a feature which also works as an all weather indoor-outdoor living space.

The focal point of the home, the breezeway separates the one bedroom home from the two-level guest quarters and can be either an open verandah or a sunroom when the glazed bi-fold doors are closed.

Best of both worlds: A narrow one-room width floor plan meant views of coast and country could be enjoyed from the main living spaces.

Best of both worlds: A narrow one-room width floor plan meant views of coast and country could be enjoyed from the main living spaces.

A breakfast bar opens off the kitchen providing the ideal place to chill over a morning coffee or a meal, while a large window seat off the living room of the one-bedroom side provides an ideal place to curl up with a book in the sun, or additional overflow sleeping accommodation as it is two beds long.

The other consideration of the build was to maximise the views.

"The siting of the house provides an intimate connection with the remnant bushland on one side and dramatic coastal views on the other," Martin said.

"These views were captured by a narrow one-room width floor plan meant that both could be enjoyed from the main living spaces.

"The property was a combination of cleared grazing land and beautiful remnant bushland of Pink Gum and large grass trees. The aim was to maintain and preserve the natural surroundings while creating an intimate connection with the bush.

"As bushfire regulations prevented the house being sited amongst the trees, the decision was made to build up to the edge of the bushland. Earthworks were avoided by building up off the ground, leaving the natural topography intact," he said.

The design also addresses the owners' wish for a sustainable house.

"Due to power not being readily available there was a requirement for the house to be completely off-grid," Martin said.

"Good cross ventilation and a narrow plan meant that sea breezes would be captured to cool the house in the warmer months. Air conditioning is not required.

"In winter extensive glazing to the north captures the warmth of sun. This is supplemented by a slow combustion heater burning the abundant available firewood from the site. High level vents deliver hot air from the living room into the bedrooms via fan forced ducting."

The home is highly insulated and windows and doors use high performance double glazing.

Relax: A breakfast bar opens off the kitchen providing the ideal place to chill over a morning coffee or a meal.

Relax: A breakfast bar opens off the kitchen providing the ideal place to chill over a morning coffee or a meal.

Electricity is generated through solar panels on the shed roof, and power is stored in a battery bank in the shed. There is currently enough storage for three days without sunshine and storage could easily be increased.

For the externals, durable and robust materials typically used in the many surrounding shearing sheds were chosen. These included galvanised steel, Australian hardwood and fibre cement.