The 36 m² building was constructed for a creative couple and will serve as their house while their larger primary dwelling – also a Matt Williams Architects design – is completed nearby.
The design process has been a close partnership, beginning with assisting their customers in assessing and selecting the plot of land. The location was chosen for its relative remoteness and, more importantly, its perspective. The Studio was initially envisaged as a viewfinder - based on the shape of a slide-viewer held up to your eye - that would concentrate the occupants on the vista over Great Oyster Bay to the Freycinet Peninsula. The other driving concept was that of a sturdy tent - a building that offered the necessary cover on such an exposed place while preserving the immediacy of the surrounding and larger landscape. Because of the size and position of the apertures, you are always in close proximity to the landscape and the weather.
The property began with undisturbed steep vegetated dunes and low-lying sections prone to floods. The initial stage was to evaluate and choose locations for the Studio and future dwelling. Initial design was determining how to create the necessary services on site - road, water tank, mains electricity, and wastewater – while minimizing disturbance to the site and retaining the landscape's dominance.
To prevent wide turning areas, the driveway is kept close to the road border and forms a loop; the water tank for household supplies and firefighting is buried beneath the driveway to further limit site disturbance. While the Studio sits near to the road to minimize intrusion into the site, it is approached by a walk that works with the existing contours, closely surrounding a dune to offer isolation and solitude. The structure is raised above the dunes in order for it to float over the vegetation and allow wildlife [aka snakes] to roam freely.
While it was a small building, the scope of work included significant costs associated with establishing the overall site for both the Studio and the future residence, including the driveway; mains electricity connection; installation of the buried water tank; and installation of the wastewater system. The Surefoot footing technique eliminates concrete and reduces site disruption; the OSB lining eliminates plasterboard while utilizing manufacturing waste; and the black limestone pavers used for the flooring offer a gorgeous thermal mass inside a well-sealed, insulated shell.
The creative professional couple, who had previously lived in Los Angeles, were looking for a place of sanctuary and retreat. The Studio was necessary to give short-term [1 - 2 months] lodging for visitors from other countries – and therefore to provide everything required for the site's simple usage. The journey is supposed to be one of shedding, the noise and demands, to reach a haven of peace and tranquilly, from landing in Tasmania, driving the coast road, arriving on site, and walking the winding route to the Studio.
While the footprint is tiny (36 m²), the shape unfolds in both plan and section, making the space feel larger. The extremely restricted, beautifully textured palette provides an easily read building that simply blends into the backdrop, while unconsciously complementing the whole experience.
Photographs by Adam Gibson.
The Radius House is the young firm's first residential project, which was finished in the early weeks of 2022.