An Incredible Architectural Getaway, Hidden On A Bushland Acreage

It only took Adam Haughey one visit to Bonville before deciding it was somewhere he wanted to have ‘a permanent getaway.’

The Sydney-based builder and HAUSES director was invited to stay with a friend there a few years ago, and after just ‘one day of exploring’ he’d fallen in love with the small town near Coffs Harbour. So when a lush five-acre block came up for sale in 2021, he seized the chance to build a unique retreat hidden within the established trees of the former nursery.

‘I was drawn to the beauty of the block and the surrounding area — it was an opportunity to have acreage near the ocean,’ Adam says.

His vision was for a private holiday home that he could also share with others as short-stay accommodation, engaging architect Callum Eve (of Mum Architecture) for the project.

‘We set out to create something economical and considered with readily available materials of an Australian palette,’ Adam adds. ‘The cost of construction is at an all-time high, and we wanted to show that you can build a nice home without costing the earth.’

This challenge prompted them to look at the experimental Case Study Houses for inspiration. American architects designed a series of modern, simple, and airy homes as part of an experimental program from 1945 until 1966, driven by a similar exploration in affordable architecture.

‘We also both have a passion for rural Japanese architecture and found it natural to draw parallels between this and the Australian shed,’ Callum says. ‘The surrounding plant species and climate lent itself perfectly to this marriage of styles.’

They decided to keep almost all the materials in their raw forms, highlighting the imperfect textures of unfinished steel, concrete and timber featured both inside and out. Adam and his team constructed the off-form concrete walls themselves, cleverly reusing the same timber bracing from this process to build the wall framing of the house.

Much like the Case Study Houses, the completed Bonville Bush Retreat features sliding glass doors and garage roller doors that completely open the living areas to outdoors. This created a sweeping sense of space, and every room feels immersed in the natural landscape.

‘Adam isn’t shy to throw a party, and it’s been satisfying to see how everyone just flows in and out of the house, the transition between internal and external is extremely subtle. I think this is helped even more by the indoor garden at the northern threshold,’ Callum says.

In addition to the three light-filled bedrooms — sleeping up to six people — there’s an outdoor shower and a Finnish sauna to enjoy, along with enjoy direct access to a creek that runs across the rear of the property where guests can soak up the tranquility with a swim.

But Adam says one of the real highlights is the simple joy of sitting in the living room or the deck beneath the afternoon sun. ‘On sunset, the space gets beautiful, filtered light through the forest,’ he says. Magic!

Book your stay at Bonville Bush Retreat here.

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