Tent House exterior

Tent House is a unique project that required the design of a structure both sheltered and enclosed yet open and expansive.


The site is a small forest clearing amidst a pocket of rainforest in the Noosa hinterland. Due to the limited size of the clearing, the house needed to address the full height of the forest and capture sky views above, or else risk feeling confined. It also needed to address the site’s lack of winter sun penetration, caused by the scale and density of the surrounding forest.

In terms of floorplan, the clients were looking for a 3-bedroom family home with an open plan living and kitchen space.

Design response

Tent House interior

The architectural response is a dual concept including an operable insulated box, for the cooler months, which opens to a tent-like amenity in the warmer months. The walls of the box slide open manually, while the roof has an automated sliding operation. With the roof and walls open, the translucent tent structure comes into view and the forest wall becomes an architectural element; a nature wall that broadens the home’s plan.

Tent House exterior angle

The purpose of the tent roof is to serve as a ‘fly roof’ above the insulated roof, taking the brunt of the heat load. The void between these two roof elements allows a simple stack ventilation process. The varied pitches of the tent roof maximise winter sun penetration while protecting the east, west and south exposures.

Tent House interior open walls

Sustainability features

Overall, this project maximises solar gain, facilitates natural cross ventilation and uses a ‘fly roof’ to reduce heat and enable stack ventilation. Other sustainable elements include:

  • Rainwater is retained in 3 x 18,000 litre aqua plate tanks and is used for general house purposes and to maintain the vegetable patch.
  • Sunlight is captured in a small photovoltaic system with the ability to expand cell numbers and storage.
  • Trees that needed to be felled to clear the site were milled, seasoned and used for all door and window reveals and solid timber joinery details.
  • A series of endemic plant stock was planted extensively throughout the site.
  • Onsite mulching used fallen trees and conditioning of existing soil was done using only on-site materials.
  • A full site water filtration and infiltration system with a series of dry creek beds, swales and waterfall assisting in water use sustaining plants in lieu of a plumbed irrigation system.