the bunkeren house

Bunkeren sits on the rocky edge of Australia. Its layout and design are so unassuming that the home virtually blends in with the surrounding landscape.

That was the goal of this home project, led by James Stockwell Architect. The owners wanted a concrete modern bunker house where nature was the focus – not the house.

Inside the Modern Bunker House

Photography by Tom Ross

Bunkeren, which is Danish for bunker, is a concrete home that’s designed to look like it’s built into the rocky cliffs it sits on.

The location is an incredibly challenging one to build on. Along with the sloping rocky cliffs, the plot is in bushland and is often battered by severe weather.

Concrete was the natural material choice for such a difficult location.

Nature and Family Were the Focus of This Bunker House

While the clifftop location affords spectacular views of the ocean, the focus of the home’s design was family.

The owners wanted a place where their family could gather and spend quality time together. A home where they can enjoy nature and the landscape that will eventually grow up around it.

The home consists of layers of platforms that look as though they’re floating enclosures. Each one features landscaping that brings the outdoors literally to your doorstep. These platforms serve as hanging gardens.

Stepping Inside

Bunkeren gradually unfolds as it moves down the sloping site, featuring a series of ground floors that make the landscape more accessible.

Inside the home, you’ll find all the usual creature comforts – but without the unnecessary extras. The interior is spacious, featuring five bedrooms and a studio.

The L-shaped home plan puts the kitchen, living and dining spaces toward the ocean views. A contoured area of the home leads you to the children’s bedrooms and a bathroom.

Sliding panels open to reveal a sitting area or study, which connects the living and sleeping spaces.

All of the home’s bedrooms and work spaces are secluded to provide privacy. Garden and play areas outdoors are also secluded, so the children can play without feeling as if they’re being watched.

Behind the kitchen are more study and storage spaces, allowing for the communal areas of the home to enjoy views of Dudley Beach.

While the home is technically underground, the design of the space creates tremendous volume.

The lower level of the home is seemingly carved into the rock to make it look like the house is coming out of the earth.

Advantages of this Design

The owners of the home not only wanted a space where they could gather and connect with nature, they also wanted a home that was easy to maintain. Something that worked with nature rather than against it.

A concrete bunker home fits the bill. Because this home is bunker style and built into the ground, it helps protect against fires and storms. The bushland and clifftop location puts this home in the path of both types of disasters.

Concrete allows for other advantages as well. It allows for plants and the surrounding landscape to come right up and over the home without worry.

There’s no need to be concerned about mold or termites. There are no gutters to clean. The homeowners don’t even have to worry about painting.

It’s a home that can live harmoniously with nature.

Blurring the Lines Between Indoor and Outdoor Living

The Bunkeren House was designed to be a part of the landscape. In fact, the landscape is the point.

When the doors and windows are open, the barriers between where the building begins and ends start to disappear. Concrete affords this luxury, as the homeowners don’t have to worry about the usual concerns with humidity, moisture and critters.

Along with thoughtfully planned landscaping, the exterior of the home features a raised concrete pool. The pool separates the main house from the guest studio, which features a bedroom, bathroom and sitting room.

Bunkeren is a testament to the beauty and flexibility of building with concrete. The blending of nature and living creates a space that’s a true escape from the hustle and bustle of city living. And yet Bunkeren still has an unfinished quality about it, which was done purposefully to allow the owners to invent and transform the home over the years.

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