According to Dan Devine and Hugh Maguire of
Maguire + Devine Architects in Tasmania, their client was born in Taiwan and had grown up surrounded by traditional Japanese architecture. "Out of this grew a love for highly-crafted minimalist design," they explain.
"Our brief was to capture that love and design a building as a piece of furniture with everything she needs built in. The only furniture allowed was a low table and mattress on the sleeping loft."
The 301-square-foot cabin is situated on 99 acres on Bruny Island, an island off the coast of Tasmania. For the exterior, the architects have chosen materials that "comply with the Bushfire Attack Level of 19," they explain, including bushfire resistant wood and zincalume metal. The cabin collects its own rainwater—storage tanks are underground for an uncluttered look—and the roof sports solar panels.
The open-plan interior has been sheathed in light-colored wood to create a sense of enclosure, as well as an escape from the modern world. The low-lying exterior decks have been designed to not require railings, ensuring the sightline to the surrounding wilderness goes unimpeded.
A Nectre Bakers oven provides sharply defined contrast at the kitchen, and also supplies heat in colder temperatures. The oven is used for baking, as well as space-heating. The translucent doors on both sides open to east and west-facing decks to capture morning and evening sun.
"The views to the north are unsettling, with tall, dense forest always in dark shadow," notes the architects. For that reason, they positioned the cabin so this serene seating area would take advantage of the southern view, which is more expansive.
The ladder leads to a quiet sleeping loft.
The interior bathroom can do double-duty as a mudroom, thanks to a secret door that enables exterior access. Additionally, that door delivers an "almost" outdoor showering experience, and has been designed so guests can use the restroom without disturbing others sleeping inside.
"With both sliding doors open, the two decks connect seamlessly through the building, dramatically changing the sense of scale, space, and connection to the site."
"Translucent glass in the sliding doors references the light qualities of Japanese rice-paper screens, creating a sense of enclosure and privacy at night, while encouraging the occupant to open them during the day," explain the architects. "They also prevent birds, including the endangered swift parrot, from attempting to fly through the building and striking the glass."
A tub inset in the deck fosters a true retreat experience.