Contemporary stunner in Margaret River shows off sustainable living at its best
18th September, 2020
Horticulturalist-artist-architect couple Britta and Michael Sorensen have long lived by their passion for eco-friendly, sustainable living – both personally and professionally.
So, when they embarked on their private build at 126 Ashton Street in Margaret River, they embraced it as an opportunity to pay homage to the environment by creating a model of contemporary, sustainable architecture that steps well away from the “hippy” tag the south-west town has been lumbered with.
“We have been designing and building contemporary architecture in Margaret River for over 25 years and mainly upmarket holiday homes,” Britta Sorensen said.
“In our own home, we wanted to make an example and build a model of doing this more sustainably. We wanted to show that even though on a smaller footprint and using sustainable materials and techniques, you can achieve a house that is minimalist, super contemporary, cool, fun and funky.
“We wanted to build a home that was warm, both in temperature and atmosphere, but also really contemporary and cutting-edge as far as technology goes.”
Completed in 2012, the single-bedroom property has been designed to capture the very best of its natural surrounds.
“I love the way it incorporates the beautiful view that we have, overlooking the valley into the national park, so it’s really been all about bringing this view into the house and making everybody in the house feel like they are part of that landscape,” Ms Sorensen said.
“Despite the relatively small footprint, you’re constantly feeling as though you’re connected to nature outside.”
During the build several decaying Marri trees on the block had to be felled and, once milled, local craftsmen repurposed the timber in the home.
Features include a rooftop terrace, double glazing, hydronic floor heating and a vintage 1970s caravan that has been transformed into self-contained guest quarters, complete with orange walls and shagpile rugs.
“We deliberately designed this as a one-bedroom house because it’s just the two of us but of course we still get guests staying. We didn’t want a guest room that sat empty half of the time,” Mrs Sorensen said.
“I love vintage caravans and I’ve turned this 1970s caravan into an ode to the 70s…So, the house is minimalist and the caravan is completely over the top! Our guests love it because it’s like a cubby for adults. It’s a lovely little nest.”
Ms Sorensen designed the garden, which includes food production based on permaculture principles, providing a supply of fruit, vegetables and eggs. It has been organically managed for 10 years and is home to an array of small birds, lizards and two resident frogmouth owls.
Additional features of the property, which won the 2013 Australian Institute of Architects Award for Sustainable Architecture, include a shed and a separate artist’s studio that overlooks the garden.