Bellbird Retreat is a weekend escape to a stunning rural setting in Killarney is a small town located 35 kilometres south-east of Warwick, on the Condamine River in Queensland, Australia. The modest dwelling sits in a pristine bushland reserve and encourages a dialogue between man-made and natural environments. Designed by Steendijk architects connection to place is embraced through building form and materials, climatic sensitivity, and the framing of views. As a place of contemplation and rejuvenation, Bellbird Retreat excels at every point.
Tempering the remote rural land upon which it sits, it affords its occupants comfort and safe haven. Sustainability in a climatically extreme environment was embraced, from rainwater and electricity harvesting to passive design measures utilising the building’s mass and orientation to create year-round thermal comfort. With a site susceptible to devastating bushfires, the inspired fire-resistant roof design eliminated combustible timber rafters by utilising the structural capacity of steel pleats to create a single span structure with unsupported cantilevered eaves.
Dissolving the distinction between interior and exterior, monolithic brick blade walls are carried inside, and triangular roof pleats penetrate the northern glass facade, and their patina resonates with the bark of surrounding gum trees. Past a welcoming bench and covered entry, the modest open-plan interior dramatically expands to a breathtaking layered view beyond. The interior employs the rich golden hues of locally grown indigenous hoop pine utilised for joinery, doors, walls, and ceilings.
Bedroom windows are orientated towards ‘morning’ views, with living spaces capturing ‘evening’ views as the last rays illuminate the stunning Condamine Gorge escarpment. The interior is simple, restrained and sparse and is a counterpoint to the omnipresent beauty of the natural landscape. Rural sensibilities and restrained tectonics balance the building’s composition, creating open yet protected spaces.