Context recognition unites many scales of design at Marramarra Shack

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The rolling landscape of ridges and valleys of Marramarra National Park is located on the northern outskirts of Sydney, Australia. The folds of this terrain are cut by the Hawkesbury River and smaller streams which unite to create a protected delta before merging with the Pacific Ocean. It was in these sheltered waters that the Darug people, who lived by the river and streams, welcomed Captain Cook and his fleet in 1788. Australian territory was later occupied by the British, who established roads and power grids everywhere on the continent and orange orchards cultivated, among others, in this locality. The community was and still is only accessible at high tide. Electricity never reached this community, and it remains off the grid even today.




  • Marramarra Shack negotiating with the slope of the land Image: Leopold Banchini






  • Housing entrance |  Marramarra Hut |  Leopold Banchini Architects |  STIRworld
    The entrance to the accommodation Image: Leopold Banchini



The Marramarra hut, designed by Leopold Banchini Architects, is located on a slope that descends to the Marramarra stream, which is to the south of the river. Campgrounds, walking trails and kayaking routes through mangrove waters surround this place, where the wing-tailed eagle glides through its skies. Rock carvings, rock art and trees sacred to the first inhabitants of this land are found around the park. The architects, acknowledging this history, express: “Marramarra Shack is built on the land of the Darug people. our respects to the past, present and future of their elders, who have always been and always will be indigenous lands.



  • Sections and Layout of Marramarra Shack |  Marramarra Hut |  Leopold Banchini Architects |  STIRworld
    Marramarra Shack sections and layout plan Image: Leopold Banchini






  • Model of Marramarra Shack |  Marramarra Hut |  Leopold Banchini Architects |  STIRworld
    Model of the Marramarra hut Image: Leopold Banchini






  • A more detailed detail of the Marramarra Shack |  Marramarra Hut |  Leopold Banchini Architects |  STIRworld
    A more detailed detail of the Marramarra Shack Image: Leopold Banchini



The decisions taken by the architects take into account this rich historical and geographical environment. Instead of using concrete, the foundation of the staircase house rests on the sandstone bedrock to reduce the negative impact of the structure and construction processes on the land. The building is lifted by wooden posts emerging from the stone base. These iron bark hardwood poles are 200 years old and are salvaged from utility poles after steel was used as a replacement. The beams are made of speckled gumwood available locally. Every ply of the floor slab retained by this compact structure aligns with the slope of the slope of the terrain below and adapts to the profile of the furniture above. The horizontal levels of the platforms, seats and beds match the folds so that they are accessible from a lower fold. The interior wooden wall panels match these levels horizontally as well as the exterior, fire-resistant fiber cement panels, which overlap – a detail for rainwater to run off efficiently. Furniture is repurposed from turpentine from the pier that overlooked the creek.



  • Cabin living space |  Marramarra Hut |  Leopold Banchini Architects |  STIRworld
    Cabin living space Image: Leopold Banchini






  • Cabin dining room |  Marramarra Hut |  Leopold Banchini Architects |  STIRworld
    Cabin dining area Image: Leopold Banchini



Even though the floor slopes down, the roof is horizontal and common above all interior spaces. Sheltered by trees, it serves as a terrace and also for collecting solar energy and water to make the house self-sufficient. Inside, this operator allows the volume of the house to extend vertically towards the stream. The tallest facade is the north face of the structure, and the only edge with a window opening, allowing its inhabitants to connect with the trees and still waters. Light and wind pass through the dwelling when the large window is raised with freely hanging counterweights. Programmatically, it is assigned to the public space of the house – the living and dining areas. One also enters the hut from this space, perpendicular to the primary axis of the house. The lower, more private bed and bath spaces are accessible by climbing from here. The smaller bedrooms have access to a protected patio at the back. Full-height wooden shutters mediate between the public and private spaces. The spaces can be merged, if necessary, to allow views and let natural light into the rooms.



Furniture and details |  Marramarra Hut |  Leopold Banchini Architects |  STIRworld
Furniture and details Image: Leopold Banchini


Often buildings are trying to achieve a lot, even small things. This dwelling, on the other hand, is an example of a small building with an intention that connects many scales of design. The building is an attempt to align with the environment – earth, water, light and air. The massing of the house evokes a sense of place, as do the furnishings. You see it in the program placement logic and it resonates through the choice of materials and details. The building identifies with its context, respects it and emerges from it.

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