Benn + Penna completes corrugated metal cabin in the Australian bush

This pill-shaped corrugated-metal cabin contains a reading room for a rural retreat in Australia's Barragorang Valley (+ slideshow).

Southern Highlands House by Benn & Penna Architects

Southern Highlands House was designed by Sydney studio Benn + Penna as an addition to a bush retreat owned by a couple who like to escape from the city at the weekends.

Southern Highlands House by Benn & Penna Architects

Situated around three hours by car from Sydney in a remote area of the Barragorang Valley, the site can only be accessed by four-wheel-drive vehicles and is entirely off grid, with no communications network.

Southern Highlands House by Benn & Penna Architects

The property comprises two other pavilions for sleeping and living that were designed by architect Beverley Garlick in 1993.

Benn + Penna referenced the curved roof forms and materiality of the existing structures in the design of the reading room, which is connected to the other pavilions by a new path and awning.

Southern Highlands House by Benn & Penna Architects

The reading room is positioned on one side of a pill-shaped concrete plinth, with the remaining surface forming a verandah that is connected to the interior by large sliding doors at the side and one end.

Southern Highlands House by Benn & Penna Architects

"A precisely constructed and endlessly looping facade amplifies the building as an object within a vast and harsh landscape," architect Andre Benn told Dezeen.

"The offset roof and wall volumes form a continuous external verandah with varying depth depending on the building's aspect."

Southern Highlands House by Benn & Penna Architects

The pavilion's curved wall is intended to give the space "a sense of looping endlessness" that is reinforced by a bookcase that follows the form of the inner surface.

Southern Highlands House by Benn & Penna Architects

"Internally, the atmosphere is one of contemplation and rest, with relatively small window apertures and a bookshelf wrapping the space in what feels like a thick wallpaper of books," Benn added.

Southern Highlands House by Benn & Penna Architects

The interior is minimally furnished to focus attention on the views, while a polished concrete floor provides a cool surface underfoot, but is dotted with colourful rugs. A log-burning stove is the only other fixed element, alongside the bookcase.

Southern Highlands House by Benn & Penna Architects

In response to the bushfire-prone setting, the architects chose to clad the reading room entirely in non-combustible corrugated metal sheeting that also complements the existing structures.

Southern Highlands House by Benn & Penna Architects

Other recent examples of remote rural retreats include a charred timber hideout on a Chilean hillside and a tiny cabin in a Swedish forest that contains a sauna and bedroom.

Photography is by Tom Ferguson.

Southern Highlands House by Benn & Penna Architects
Floor plan – click for larger image