Balnarring Retreat by Branch Studio Architects | Yellowtrace

Balnarring Retreat by Branch Studio Architects | Yellowtrace

Balnarring Retreat by Branch Studio Architects | Yellowtrace

Balnarring Retreat by Branch Studio Architects | Yellowtrace

Balnarring Retreat by Branch Studio Architects | Yellowtrace

 

It’s the ultimate man cave. Or yoga cave. Or study nook. Frankly it’s the ultimate anything you want it to be… and that’s because it was specifically designed to be just that – a building that effortlessly transformed and reconfigured to suit the needs of the owners. This woodland masterpiece was created by Branch Studio Architects and is the second project they’ve completed on this site for the owners.

“This building would need to be non-specific in its program, a blank volume of space only hinting at a possible program while also having the capability to be divided in a manner to formalise a more ‘conventional’ space for living,” said the architects.

Balnarring Retreat is the type of space you only dream about. Set on an idyllic lake, the purposefully Lo-Fi retreat doesn’t require of you to sit and meditate to slow down and stop the rushing speed of the world from bowling you over. By its very existence, due to it’s thoughtful and meticulous design, it induces all on its own a calm meditative state in the user. And that’s no small feat. This too was part of the plan by the talented mob over at Branch. The idea of building a space that created a sense of slowing down. Of retreating.

“The retreat embraces a low-tech aesthetic towards the operation of the building itself, fully embodying the idea of retreat and slowing down. Celebrating craftsmanship and integrity of materiality instead of technology,” said Branch Studio.

 

Related project: A Pavilion Between Trees In Balnarring, VIC By Branch Studio Architects.

 

Balnarring Retreat by Branch Studio Architects | Yellowtrace

Balnarring Retreat by Branch Studio Architects | Yellowtrace

Balnarring Retreat by Branch Studio Architects | Yellowtrace

Balnarring Retreat by Branch Studio Architects | Yellowtrace

Balnarring Retreat by Branch Studio Architects | Yellowtrace

 

Whilst the space itself is non specific, under certain conditions it was required to be very specific. So the architects got clever with ways and means in which to contract and expand the space to suit it’s different functions. In keeping with their low technology aesthetic, all the folding components within the rooms are manually operated. “Every wall of the building has been designed to contain components that manually fold, open and close to manipulate the space and transform the program of the building,” they said. The wall along the eastern side has a series of flaps that, when opened, reveal a long table. The southern wall contains a hidden bed and desk. And the western wall contains the kitchen and main work space. There’s even large bi-fold doors to pull across to hide the mess. Perfect!

Whilst the interior is a plywood jigsaw puzzle of terribly well thought through ideas that gracefully unfold themselves with ease and exceptional craftsmanship, it’s the northern wall that knocks your socks off. Not quite a wall per se, more a sheet of glazing. An entire elevation of pure glass panels overlooking the most exquisite lake. Man cave? This is far more than any man cave. The connection to nature is breathtaking. There is something about manmade dwellings that overlook water, or mountains or rolling grassy planes that ground us, inspire us and delight us.

Nature is important to these architects. It was part of their first brief when designing the main house for the owners. And it has played no less a part in the configuration of this space.

“The connection with place, in this case nature, is an important element… the relentless croak of the frogs, the mesmerising water reflections that dance on the ceiling, the ducks and other water birds paddling past and the dense greenery swaying in the breeze,” said the architects.

One often wonders when architects have finished building such a space as this is how they find the will to leave it. When a building is as truly captivating as this, it must take everything to be able to walk away and hand over the keys. But then maybe that’s whey Branch Studio keep designing new dwellings on the property? If you make enough of them, you’ll never have to leave. And damn if you can’t understand why.

 

Related post: Stories On Design // Sheds, Cabins & Retreats.

 


[Images courtesy of Branch Studio Architects. Photography by Peter Clarke.]

 

About The Author

Susanna McArdle
Contributor

Susanna has a background in Interior Architecture and a passion for writing. Based in Sydney, she has worked both in Asia and Australia designing. An avid writer, it’s hard to know what she prefers more, stringing words together or creating spaces. But one thing she does know, is that she loves doing the both together.

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