Beautiful, Sustainable Building Design

Kangaroo Island CLT House

This Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) house has been a collaborative effort of many parties; it’s truly been a project of cooperation and coordination and we’re excited to see the final outcome.

It’s a healthy and regenerative sanctuary in which to holiday on an island renowned for its natural wonders and healthy fare.

It does this without drawing on the outside resources (beyond food and wine, which are mostly sourced on the island).

Project Details

The design, created by Pavel Horák at Prodesi Architects in Prague, project managed by Envirotecture in Sydney and built by Yard Brothers construction is for a holiday house and smaller guest house on a site overlooking the calm waters of Island Beach in the north east of Kangaroo Island.

The natural context is low scrub on rising sand dunes behind the foredunes, and whilst the form does not try to hide or pretend it is not there, by use of simple geometry with recessed articulation, and natural colours and finishes, it seeks to respond and contribute positively to the surroundings.

The human context is low density single residential development with a wide variety of styles, but all less than 50 years old, with no dominant style other than what is broadly interpreted as ‘beach shack’ in varying degrees of sophistication.

The house and bunkhouse are separated so that larger groups can come together or partially withdraw according to need, such as with young children needing quiet sleep spaces and so on. The orientation and elevation of the main house meet the brief in terms of passive design, views, and separation of sleeping areas.

The CLT was manufactured in Austria, acoustic panels in Czech Republic, internal doors in Germany, and all other materials, joinery and components made in Australia. Some lighting sculpture pieces made by Czech glass artisan Brokis.

The structural engineer (the much loved late Ron Selth, who died fighting the KI bushfire in 2019-20) ably bridged the CLT factory’s requirements and the site’s particular conditions.

The BAL-40 bushfire rating introduced further challenges which were overcome by the design team.

The cost of building on KI is always at least 20% higher than on mainland SA. The cost of freight, and limitations on length and mass etc mean some decisions are enforced. Considering these issues, the cost is approximately consistent with the mainland build costs for a house of this type and quality.

CLT is a carbon sink, even considering the shipping emissions from Austria to the island. It has enormous benefits in terms of precision and speed on site. CLT is now produced in Australia (it was not available to us at the time of designing).

Off-grid is nothing new, and achieving it in remote locations is often a simple pre-requisite of building anything, but this building does go above and beyond in the amount of electricity generated, and the rainwater stored, which can be shared with less-prepared neighbours in a bushfire event.


Builder: Yard Brothers

Photography by Sean McGowan

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