outdoor bath

Coastal cabins

Within Tasmania’s wilderness rests the 2019 HIA Australian Bathroom of the Year, but it is far from your conventional interior.

Photos: Dianna Snape Photography

Author

Sarah O'Donovan

Taking a cue from the smooth, sand-like granite formations below and the rounded embrace of nearby Honeymoon Bay, Tasmania, these nine waterfront accommodation pods embody what is inspiring design-driven industries everywhere: the celebration of natural curves.

 

Burrowed among an array of coastal vegetation, the project’s water-facing exterior walls are largely constructed of floor-to-ceiling windows which reflect the surroundings, blending the structures softly into the backdrop. 

 

From the water’s edge you might miss the cosy cabins with the blink of an eye, but it’s this subtle facade, along with the secluded location, that make these one-bedroom pods perfect for a relaxing or romantic weekend escape. 

 

And that’s exactly what they are intended for, according to Michael Lane, HIA member and owner of Lane Group. The client brief dictated the construction of ‘high-end luxurious accommodation that provided privacy and seclusion for couples’. 
outlook tasmania
Perfect for a relaxing or romantic weekend escape
Image: Dianna Snape Photography
cliffside
From the water’s edge you might miss the cosy cabins with the blink of an eye
Image: Dianna Snape Photography
Each pod is shaped like a C and encompasses one bedroom, a living area, and all the elements that typically make up a bathroom. But this bathroom, which took out the title of 2019 HIA Australian Bathroom of the Year, spans indoors and out, making it much more than a conventional bathing room. 


Separate from the toilet is the vanity with a large window where the mirror would ordinarily be. Judges noted the ingenuity of this consumer-centred design, saying ‘the use of a concealed LED mirror in combination with the natural light in this area made the space highly functional’.
black shower tasmanian oak
Judges said 'the difficult design features have been faultlessly executed’
Image: Dianna Snape Photography
timber cladding
Waxed Tasmanian Oak
Image: Dianna Snape Photography
The shower room, a remarkable example of residential architecture, is shaped into a softly-curved triangle. While the intention of the dark hues was to minimise focus on the bathroom and draw the eye without distraction to the views outside, the space is difficult to overlook. 


It has been impeccably detailed with fine slices of charcoal tile shaped around the bends. Michael told HOUSING these tiles were laser cut to size off-site to ensure they would seamlessly curve around the bend of the wall. 


This laborious method, while every bit worthwhile, extended beyond the shower room too, with different widths of timber used in a similar fashion to fit the form of the walls. 


‘Even though the Tasmanian Oak was used in different thicknesses, having narrow widths made it easier to go around the curves, some of which are quite tight,’ Michael says. 
curved shower

tiles were laser cut to create fine slices that could be shaped around the bend

There is one additional element to this bathroom and, in keeping with the project theme of natural integration, it can be found outside. Perched on top of the private deck, and clad in matching timber, is a private bathtub fit for two. 


Despite Tasmania’s typically cooler climate, the bath is suitable for use year-round. It is discreetly positioned in the centre of this wraparound design to provide privacy and wind-protection. From here, the user can enjoy either one of two views: the breathtaking landscape or the adjacent eco-fire which sits behind glass on the inside of the living room. 


These earthly elements, fire and water, seem to come together in symbiosis throughout this design, creating a warm and welcoming ambience by the sea. 
The exterior timber shell is charred, which Lane Group says pays homage to the significance of fire and the use of charcoal in Indigenous culture, while naturally improving the longevity of the finish. 
Bathroom of the Year
A concealed LED mirror in combination with the natural light in this area makes the space highly functional
Image: Dianna Snape Photography
deck outdoor bath
These nine waterfront accommodation pods embody the celebration of natural curves
Image: Dianna Snape Photography
Unsurprisingly, this captivating project was incredibly labour-intensive and was not without its many challenges. 


Being in a fairly secluded, remote area meant many of Michael’s staff members were travelling far from home, but he was impressed with the dedication they continued to display, saying: ‘they were all living away from home for the duration of the project which isn’t easy. They’d travel three hours to work on Monday morning, and then three hours back home on Friday night’.


Further complicating the construction process, materials had to be hand-delivered to the worksite. 


‘With the site being a national park we weren’t allowed to crane or helicopter anything in,’ he says. ‘Everything was walked and wheelbarrowed in [along] tracks. It was quite challenging.’


But judges were suitably wowed by the result, saying the bathroom was ‘truly unique, providing an exciting and well-considered design that takes advantage of the stunning water views from the shower, vanity and outside bath. It is beautifully detailed and the difficult design features have been faultlessly executed’.
cabin
‘Everything was walked and wheelbarrowed in [along] tracks. It was quite challenging.’
Image: Dianna Snape Photography
timber and tiles
Earthly elements come together in symbiosis throughout this design, creating a warm and welcoming ambience 
Image: Dianna Snape Photography
The win marks a particularly important milestone for Michael because it’s the first industry accolade he’s achieved under his new solo trading name. Once one half of Cordwell Lane, Michael recently made the move to set up his own company. 

‘In June last year we decided to go our own ways,’ he says. ‘We’d had 18 years working together and it was the right time to do it. The aim was to be a bit more flexible rather than have such a large workforce.’ 


Over the past 20 years Cordwell Lane picked up quite a few awards, so it was a natural decision for Michael to enter Lane Group’s latest project into HIA’s awards program and, it’s safe to say, it hit the ground running. 


‘It gives us publicity to put the new company Lane Group out there in front of people,’ he says. 


While Michael is humbled by the award, which recognises quality workmanship on a national scale, he considers the result a team effort. When asked for a final remark on the pods, Michael again acknowledged his team, saying: ‘I want to highlight the excellent craftsmanship of the staff, they did an awesome job.’
curved glass

Freycinet Lodge at a glance

Designer: Lane Group
Architect: Liminal Architecture
Location: Coles Bay, Tasmania

Materials:

  • External Cladding – Charred Ironbark 
  • Internal Cladding – Tasmanian Oak
  • Floors & Ceiling – ao Ann Tasmanian Oak Ply
  • Curved Glass – Australian Curved Glass
  • Flat Glass – Viridian DGU’s
  • Decking – Grey Gum
  • Internal Coatings – Whittle Wax
  • External Coatings – Cutec Oil 

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