Grand Designs Australia

Grand Designs Australia: A $1.6m tent in the rainforest

Would you live under a tent in the rainforest?

When you go camping the whole idea is to experience the world around you.

One architect, Dan Sparks, took that to a whole new level in this week's Grand Designs Australia.

He convinced homeowners Nick and Nicole New to essentially build a tent under the stunning rainforest canopies of Verrierdale in Queensland, just fifteen minutes from the beaches of Noosa.

A unique location, after all, deserves a unique property.

This entire area is green zoned, apart from one fifteen-acre block general physician Nick and cardiac nurse Nicole bought for $400,000.

The land came with an old planning permit that was signed off before restrictions came in.

The tent, or tensile structure roof, is the dominant form of the design - five hundred square metres of taught translucent fabric.

Underneath that the house itself takes the form of a very simple pavilion, with four bedrooms with a large kitchen living area in the centre.

It’s how these spaces interact with the tent and the forest that brings this design to life. Roofs at each end open, meaning Nick and Nicole can quite literally lie in bed and look at the stars.

The build budget was $900,000, excluding architectural fees.

The tent was initially supposed to be a cost saving measure, but the home's unique design soon pushed up the spend.

For loans, the banks even valued the home at less than it cost to build due to the unknown and untested elements of the house, leaving Nick and Nicole eating into their entire savings with no contingency.

Architect Dan had only used this type of structure before in commercial projects like shopping centres and sports stadiums.

The tent structure cost $150,000, made from material manufactured in France, engineered in Australia, and put together in Manila in the Philippines.

All together the project cost $1.6 million, but for the family the real value lies in the beauty of life in the middle of this forest.

From the inside, the problem isn’t how to connect with this environment, but more whether they’ll connect too much.

They've already had a few unvited guests in the form of local wildlife.

Nicole said: "Sometimes I feel like I've got to pinch myself, 'Oh my God, this is ours'. It feels pretty nice and I think it's really nice for our kids to grow up in a house like this and the memories that we'll make in the future."

 
 

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