What is La Boîte?
“La Boîte” is the name of our house at Currigee.
Why “La Boîte” you ask ?? It is French for “The Box”. When you first approach the house that is exactly what it looks like!
Our brief to architect Kevin Hayes was to design a house that was integrated with our surroundings yet able to be locked up “like a box” for the times when we or our friends were not there.
The house is constructed out of a laminated eco-ply – which is glue-laminated plywood constructed from plantation wood so, therefore, a regenerative timber. Being glue-laminated also assists in providing the structural integrity to the timber and reduces the cross-bracing necessary within the house.
La Boite is actually perched on a sand blow so our engineer needed to design a piling system which would cater for a specified wind load nominated by the Gold Coast Council and also weather any possible movement in the sand blow. The piles that the house sits on are actually spliced and have been driven in some instances up to 18 metres into the ground.
The house is also fully powered by the sun – so it is important that guests are aware of how you use the power – so that you can assist in conserving the power reserves. It is a fully independent power system which means you are not connected to any grid – so no power bills however there is a substantial capital outlay initially.
The power is produced by the photovoltaic cells located on the roof and is then stored in special deep cycle batteries. An inverter takes the battery power and converts it into normal 240 volt AC mains power. This is how your lights and power points work. Check out the tips to conserve power listed below.
But back to the house design
Kevin Hayes and his team are a very well regarded and highly awarded architectural firm located in New Farm, Brisbane. As Rob and I have many friends who also have houses at Currigee (and Rob, in particular, has been visiting the island since he was a teenager) we had quite specific ideas about what we wanted from our house at Currigee.
In a twist of irony Gerard Lynch, a partner of Kevin Hayes, put his hand forward for the design brief – I say a twist of irony because Gerard is a green-blooded Irishman with a distinct dislike of anything to do with the beach unless it occurs when the temperature is under 8 degrees Celsius. However, the design for La Boite if perfect – people often ask what we would change if the opportunity existed and the only item we have been able to come up is to get rid of the squeaky pantry door !!!
The house has been designed to cater for socialising – with hectic schedules during the week we find it important to share our weekends with friends and family so big lunches are not uncommon in the house.
Inviting the outside in is a must
To be surrounded by such beauty that exists on South Stradbroke Island and not tries to reflect that within the house was to us an anathema. The entire eastern side of the house can be rolled back with one deck covered and the other not, you have a choice for winter and summer, morning and afternoon, dry or wet conditions.
The house contains no glass so windows are achieved with cut-outs of the external walls which are then held in place with simple timber frames, this allows for the breezes to flow through the house and the most amazing feeling when lying in bed at night or early morning as the sun welcomes the day and the birds commence their calls.
The house can comfortably sleep ten without relying on the floor area although our Christmas’ have seen many more sleeping in the house. The favourite spot for young and old alike appears to be the “nightwatchman’s bed” which is perched upon the storage cupboard at the top of the stairs.
The master bedroom is located in the northern part of the house and contains a beautiful Poliform queen bed with mosquito net and a walk in robe for storage – there are also two pappadum chairs for a bit of quiet time on your private deck.
The second bedroom also contains a queen bed with a mosquito net and has a similar deck which is perfect for reading or just watching the sunset over the Broadwater.
The third room is the family sleeping room – here there is another double bed together with a set of bunk beds (so it sleeps 4 in total).
Then we have the new addition to La Boite – the dongers – two separate rooms linked to the main house via a timber walkway – here you will find another bedroom with double bed and mosquito net and in the other room 2 sets of bunk beds – so beds for 4!!
Please – a warning – if you have small children be aware of the windows – you may choose to leave them shut and locked
On the western deck you will find the outside shower – Rob and I find that it is the shower we use most often. It is perfect for a quick wash down after a morning at the beach and allows you to keep up your conversation with everyone (and your modesty is preserved too!)
Inside there is a shower and bath down stairs – obviously given that the entire house runs on tank water and is precious, baths are the infrequent joys experienced in the tropical downpours that South East Queensland can experience. But sitting in a claw foot bath looking out the window to see the rain pouring down with a quiet glass of champagne can be one of life’s best pleasures.
There are two toilets, one down and one upstairs – it is a septic system so please natural items only
I can confirm from experience that the kitchen is the heart of the house – with its long ironwood bench top that acts as prep bench, servery, and bar. The kitchen is equipped with a gas stove, dishwasher and fridge and freezer.
It is advisable to use eskies for additional fridge space and dry ice can be a godsend if you are staying for longer then a week.
There is a dining room which can comfortably seat 8 however there is an additional table of equal size on the deck if your party is bigger. The dining room table was a gift from my parents for our engagement and was made by a local wood smith in the Gold Coast hinterland.
In the living area you will find a couch and 2 single seaters focussed around our wood fire. For those who think the beach is only a pleasure in summer we would disagree – there have been many nights spent in silence around that fire snuggling up against the outside cold.
As for out door furniture – there is a large freestanding umbrella, an outside dining table for 8, a smaller table for 4, a recliner and whatever else you feel so inclined to move. A word of recommendation the eastern deck loses its sun early to mid afternoon and a mattress from the bunk room on that deck can provide the perfect afternoon nap.
A recent gift from some very close friends is the new gas barbeque on the western deck – it is fantastic – right for all occasions and we and our guests have been using it regularly. Please ensure that you turn the gas off and on at the source and that it is left clean prior to your departure (the bbq is not in the cleaner’s routine – so leave it how you would like to see it when you arrive!!)
So in summary:
- Master Bed – 1 Queen bed
- Second bedroom – 1 Queen bed
- Family Bedroom – 1 Queen bed and 2 bunks
- Donger Double Bedroom – 1 double bed
- Donger Bunkroom – 4 single bunk beds
- Nightwatchman – spare bed oversized single.
- 2 x toilets.
- 2 x showers (one outside).
- 1 x bath (water permitting).
- Gas hotplates.
- Gas Oven.
- Fridge and Freezer.
- Dishwasher (also solar powered – so use during the day is preferred).
- Weber BBQ
- Gas Barbeque on the western deck.
- Dining table seats 8.
- Outside dining table seats 8.
- Outdoor market umbrella.
- Smaller table for outside which seats 4.
- Gas Bottles are located at the southern end of the house and will need to be turned on and off when you arrive and leave.
- Water tanks also located at the southern end of the house.
- Garbage Bin (wheelie) located at the top of the vehicle trail.
- Garbage service weekly on Monday mornings – disastrous if you miss this. Please leave the bin at the end of the vehicle track if you are leaving before then.
Tips to Conserve Power:
- Be aware of your power and water usage – it is a great learning experience for children (and adults too).
- Switch off lights when not needed.
- Use the dishwasher only during daylight hours. As it has been converted to solar power it draws hot water directly from the tap – so run it until it is hot then turn the dishwasher on and tap off.
- Keep shower times reasonable – every time you use water the water pump wil kick in and therefore you will be using power – this is the same for the toilets as well.
- NO HAIRDRYERS PLEASE ……. Or any other small appliance which has a heating element. It puts too much strain on the system and you will run the risk that it will shut down.