Couran Point House by Arkhefield Architects

April 18, 2009

Arkhefield Architects designed this house on South Stradbroke Island in Australia.

Full description after the photos….

Photography by Scott Burrows of Aperture Architectural Photography

Conceptual Framework

The core drivers behind the build were maximising space and privacy, sheltering from the predominant south-easterly wind/weather front and creating a simple, low maintenance, sustainable living volume which could be enjoyed all year round. The isolation of the site and the harsh climatic conditions on the island are evident in the simplicity of the structure, the choice of basic, low maintenance materials and in the ability which the house is able to isolate, reorientate and shut down against the elements.

Public Benefits

The house offers a stark contrast to the predominantly lowset shacks by the way that it expresses and celebrates volume, simplicity of form and its ability to manage/manipulate the external environment. The house appears to be inspirational amongst the community with many new houses currently under construction on the island being designed and sited in a similar manner.

Relationship of Built form to Context

The house is a simple extruded profile with its form being solely dictated by town planning constraints. Height, setback and roof pitch essentially created the volumetric section which was extruded to the road and waterfront boundary setback to maximise the enclosed space. The house breaks out onto the terraced waterfront on the east, to an enclosed ‘winter courtyard’ on the west and closes down to the north and south to retain privacy from the adjacent blocks.

Program Resolution

The house is split in half down the centre of its length with a large double volume ‘communal’ living space on the north and a two level ‘private’ core comprising of bedrooms and service zones on the south. The volumetric interplay between the two halves of the house creates a sense of inclusion and encourages interaction between family and guests whilst still enabling privacy and seclusion.

Cost / Value

The isolation of the site put a premium on the construction cost as all materials and skilled labour had to be barged out to the island.


ESD principles of orientation and sitting along with use of solar, gas, rainwater harvesting, bamboo cladding/screening and a thermally efficient monolithic floor slab were all core ideas behind the build.

Response to Client and User Needs

Our clients desire to recreate a ‘Bahaman’ styled beach cottage with shingled pitched roofs and quaint shuttered windows made for a challenging brief. They wanted the house to take them back to the memorable vacations they had spent in exotic locations. Through exploration and development, it became evident that decoration and themed architecture may enable brief relapses into the bygone but that intelligent design and the creation of flexible spaces stimulated communal interaction which was what really recreated that relaxed holiday atmosphere they were seeking. They are extremely happy and are enjoying their ‘Contemporary Bahaman’ cottage which they have aptly named ‘the shed’ out on Stradbroke Island.

Visit the Arkhefield website – here.