The site of this North Stradbroke Island house has beach views, but the owners (three families who have been friends for over 50 years) were most taken with its surrounding leafy landscape.

Architects Conrad Gargett were engaged to design a new house on the vacant block, placing its established brush box trees at the forefront.

The vision was for the house to feel like camping among the trees—minus the tent. ‘A really simple space to live in and when the doors are open and the breezes are blowing through,’ in the words of architect John Flynn, project director at Conrad Gargett.

Over 20 different design options were explored, starting with three shacks, then two houses, before settling on the larger house that exists today. 

Conrad Gargett navigated as many of the existing trees as possible by taking a 3D point cloud scan and folding the house around to create its unique shape.

‘It was a very involved process. We spent a lot of time on site measuring trees, working out which we could save and what was the best view,’ says John.

The heart of the home is the middle level, described by Conrad Gargett as a living platform floating within the tree canopy. A recessed ground level and concrete structure allows the upper level floor and roof to be as thin as possible, while an external spiral stair provides access to a rooftop deck with 360-degree ocean views.

The house is designed to resist winds up to 300 kilometres per hour to suit its headland location, while robust external materials respond to its bushfire prone position. Concrete helps achieve these requirements, with brush box timber veneer within to match the trees, and brass finishes selected to patina over time in the salt air. 

‘For the cladding, we tested several different shades of brown paint to find the right colour that would blend in with the brush box trees,’ says John. 

The completed house is so immersed in nature that kookaburras are known to land on the kitchen bench, kangaroos take shelter from the rain under the cantilevered foundations, and even koalas climb through the windows! 

‘It is like you are up in the trees, watching the birdlife and the whales and waves in the distance. It’s a pretty special space,’ says John. 

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