Cutting a striking figure sitting beside a dam on a picturesque rural property in Mudgee, NSW is Gawthorne’s Hut – a small footprint cabin which has gone to large lengths to be off-grid.
Designed by Cameron Anderson Architects as a luxury tourism experience, it allows guests to experience small home living along with sustainable design elements. The cabin is completely powered by rooftop solar panels and battery storage while its water is supplied by huge water storage tanks sitting nearby on the farm.
Other sustainable features include use of recycled materials, double glazed blackbutt timber windows, water efficient bathroom fixtures, passive solar shading and thermal mass from the gorgeous concrete floor used throughout the space.
The small footprint cabin feels much larger than its actual size, due mostly to the addition of a wall of windows on the eastern side. It connects the timber-lined interior with the surrounding farm land and provides lots of lovely opportunities to enjoy the view from all spaces. Have you noticed the window next to the bed? It is set at the perfect height to lay in bed and gaze out at the rolling hills beyond. What a way to wake up in the morning! It’s perfect for a lazy start to the day.
The feeling of space inside the cabin is also enhanced by the long unobstructed views through the length of the cabin, with the toilet as the only totally enclosed space. Too often I see small footprint homes designed as a collection of tiny rooms, and they end up feeling more like a celebration of all they’ve managed to squeeze in – rather than allowing the occupant to appreciate the minimalistic beauty and simplicity of small home living. This cabin isn’t pretending to be a fully kitted out home, shoe-horned into a tiny box, but rather the architects have only included the bare essentials and then made them beautiful and worthy of being on display.
Behind the behind the bed is a low height wall with many functions. Made from salvaged bricks, it serves at the bedhead on one side, holds the bathroom vanity on the other, conceals the services coming down from the ceiling and provides a small degree of separation to the bathroom. It is also a cheeky reference to the only surviving part of the original cottage on the property – the fireplace.
Now that the opportunity to travel has opened up to us once again, this big-hearted cabin has me daydreaming and planning for future road trips – where the days are spent exploring the local wineries and the nights are enjoyed sitting around the fire pit with a bottle of the local speciality.
I’d love to hear what you think about this project – let me know in the comments section below.
> Small footprint of only 40m2
> Recycled bricks repurposed from the fireplace in the original cottage on the property
> 6.6 kw solar system
> 12kw battery storage
> 40,000 rain water storage
> Off-grid cabin
> Double glazed blackbutt timber windows and doors
> Thermal mass via a polished concrete slab
> Water efficient taps and toilet
> Services enclosed in small room on western elevation of cabin to buffer the interior from heat from the western sun
1. Can you recycle any materials from your existing property or can you find second hand materials?
2. Water efficient taps and toilets can save bucket loads of water and money. Buy the highest rated fixtures you can afford.
3. Look into the best window type for your home – consider using timber frames with double glazing to keep your home comfortable.
Gawthorne’s Hut is named after the historical owner of the property Benjamin Gawthorne, the recycled bricks coming from the remains of his original cottage.
The project intends to create a unique and sustainable tourism experience that responds directly to the history and context of the property. The angled galvanised clad shell and rich timber lined interior reference the predominant rural vernacular of hay sheds and outbuildings and in particular the existing hay shed that was destroyed by a storm in 2017. The angled roof form of galvanized steel is both a reference to the relic of the existing shed and also the client’s desire to accommodate the solar array on the building.
Critical to the project is the concealment of the services so as to not detract from the picturesque rural setting and visitor experience. Great effort has been taken to conceal services out of sight with large galvanised clad door to the Western façade opening to reveal storage, solar batteries and inverter, electrical board and a gas hot water unit.
Nadine is the founder and editor of Eco Edition and founder of the Eco Edition Design School. She’s an experienced interior designer, sustainable materials consultant, speaker and serial home renovator.