Karuah River Retreat | SHAC

2024 National Architecture Awards Program

Karuah River Retreat | SHAC

Traditional Land Owners
Worimi People

New South Wales



Residential Architecture – Houses (New)
Built By Eli
Alexander McIntyre Photography
Project summary

The meander, a bend in a river, ancient, dappled shade, birdsong, timeless.

Worimi and Gringai country is known as land of ‘native plumb trees’, ‘abundant fish’ and ‘big water holes’ is a timeless place for food, shelter and harvest. This site has been a campground for generational families, later living in a shed, around pot bellies and possums.

SHAC sought to frame the edge of the old shed site, re-use bits and bobs and embrace the river sights, sounds and smells through a series of elevated passive pavilions. Prefabricated in Newcastle, assembled on site in a few days, then fitted out and finished off in-situ by some truly clever earthy folk.

Three new pavilions; one for living (family), one for sleeping (fatigue) and one for utilities (farm) blend quietly into the surroundings. It is honest and raw, as a farmhouse should be. We’ve totally lost the owners, they’ve gone bush!

New South Wales Architecture Awards Accolades
Commendation for Residential Architecture – Houses (New)
Region Jury Citation

The simple, agricultural forms of the Karuah River Retreat, belie the ingenuity that brought it into being. The brief for a highly passive house set deep in the bush led the architects to use prefabricated timber cassettes that could be built in a controlled environment with minimal waste and then transported to the site for faster assembly. The project has been a valuable learning experience for those involved and showcases the potential of this skill and capacity being developed in Newcastle.

Connect with SHAC
Karuah River Retreat | SHAC | Photographer Alexander McIntyre

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