Baker Boys Beach House: a sitting down place for an holiday in Minjerribah
Influenced by local campsites – where cooking, gathering and sleeping zones are united under a large tarpaulin – Baker Boys Beach House incorporates essential functionality in a compact footprint, beneath an elegant butterfly roof.
The local Jandai aboriginal word Moongalba, or “sitting down place”, beautifully describes the simplicity of spending time here.
The Minjerribah holiday house embodies calmness and simplicity, so the occupants can enjoy being immersed in nature at the beach.
This is a deliberately simple house that inspires a feeling of escape from everyday life, where people can spend time in nature with friends and family, just like the Minjerribah campsites and beach shacks of old.
Built for three families, the house accommodates up to 10 people. Small sleeping and bathing spaces contrast with a generous communal area, where views of the sea and surrounding bushland enhance the sense of being “on holidays”.
Carefully sited on an elevated, steeply sloping block, the design maintains existing mature gum trees and incorporates passive design principles. The arrangement of rooms and openings ensures privacy while maximising access to views.
A singular cladding material - Shou Sugi Ban, or charred timber – helps to blend the building within the bushland setting.
Our client’s brief for single-level living led us to embed the house into the hillside. At the rear, a firepit and outdoor bathtub engage with the bushland, while – at the front – an expansive north-facing deck cantilevers towards the Coral Sea.
Windows, doors, louvres and shutters are used to control privacy, sunlight, glare, breezes and outlooks, depending on the prevailing weather and season.
An elegant butterfly roof acts as the ‘tarp’, emphasising the sense of lightness and enhancing connections to the sky.
Four small bedrooms – two for adults and two children’s bunk rooms – are served by deconstructed bathrooms.
An outdoor bath elevates the experience above camping, while beachgoers can wash off salt and sand at the
outdoor shower downstairs.
Cooking and gathering spaces are larger but also simple, and the black and eucalypt green palette continues
outside. The front deck is recessed below the main floor to reduce the balustrade height and enhance the vista.
Challenges arose from the island location (materials had to be lightweight and easy-to-transport); our clients’ desire for single-level living on the sloping site; and the bushfire BAL 29 rating.
We relied on expert input from the structural engineer and builders (also our clients), opting for a pre-manufactured structural steel skeleton that was transported for installation and bolting together onsite.
The structural engineers assisted with coordinating the location of trusses within walls; minimizing the structural steel member sizes; and achieving the 4.5m cantilevered front deck
The additional expense associated with building on the island was offset by the compact footprint and use of readily available materials, including concrete blocks and charred timber, chosen for their rawness and simplicity, low maintenance, and compliance with bushfire requirements.
We also minimized the number of trades, and incorporated open car storage to reduce the overall cost.
The design uses passive solar design principles to achieve year-round thermal comfort with little active heating or cooling. Rooms and openings exclude summer heat, while inviting in winter warmth and natural light.
Windows, louvres, doors and shutters enable the occupants to harness cross-ventilation in multiple directions, to mediate the environment in accordance with prevailing conditions.
The butterfly roof with all-round glazing provides ample natural light across the day, and throughout the year.
The most significant sustainability factor is the compact footprint - just 119m2 of internal area – which minimizes total embodied energy used in construction, and contributes to lower energy costs over time. While air
conditioning is provided in the bedrooms, it’s used only at night during the hottest month of the year.
Because of the island location, material quantities were calculated onsite prior to being ordered, with the prefabricated steel skeleton leading to zero waste onsite.
Our three families had different requirements, which created a challenging brief. But our architects listened to each of us, and delivered a design that responded to all of our needs.
We love the simplicity of the spaces and materials, which allow us to simply “be” in the bush and near the beach. When we visit, we enjoy cooking, eating, laughing, playing games, reading books, bathing outdoors, coming together and quiet time.
It feels like we have a permanent camp on Stradbroke Island, and when we’re there, we can forget about our lives back home. It’s the ideal holiday escape.
Minjerribah, Stradbroke Island
Bespoke Property Holding
Erhard Rathmayr, Monika Obrist, Corinne Trang
NGS Engineers, Engineer • Flokk Interiors, Interior Designer • Viva Property Group, Townplanner • The Consultancy Bureau, Bushfire Consultant • The Certifier, Certifier
Eco Timber Group, BRC Cabinets
Christopher Frederick Jones, REFRESH*DESIGN
REFRESH*DESIGN [R*] is a multi award-winning Brisbane (Australia) based studio for architecture committed to realising finely crafted contemporary architecture responsive to brief and context.
R* believe great architecture contributes to a better functioning society. Our mission is to use design as a tool to exceed our client’s aspiration whilst balancing their intentions to
positively influence the environment and enhance people’s lives.
We strive for the most meaningful and sustainable solutions. From concept to delivery, in every phase we continue to improve and refine the design until the project is complete.
Our work has a strong focus on sustainability, underlined by its capacity to endure. It is contextual, adaptable, harmonious and well considered in
the use of space, light, material and technology.