Australian Design and Architecture: Cabin Fever
Australian Design and Architecture: Cabin Fever

The Rise of the Cabin: Exploring Its Growing Influence in Australian Design and Architecture


Part 2: Materials

Australian hardwoods, corrugated iron and stainless steel fittings. Australian-designed and made cabins are both immediately obvious and appealing. We’re lucky because our natural environment serves up strong and textured set of materials. Our indigenous culture inspires rich colours and our history of pastoral land use has created a classic and evocative Australian bush home. They each inform the architecture and design of the contemporary Australian cabin. 

Today we’re taking a look at just a few from our favourites.

It follows on from our blog from last month, the first in our two-part series on Australian designed cabins. Last month we looked at the use of space. A cabin demonstrates how one small space can serve many functions. We love the flexibility in the design and shared some of our favourite examples here

For blending into the natural landscape nothing compares to the Moonlight Cabin. The design is by Melbourne-based architects Jackson, Clements and Burrows. The cabin is clad in spotted gum and in the words of the architects “acts like a ‘gore-tex jacket’ to protect the cabin from the elements”

Moonlight Cabin by Jackson, Clements, Burrows Image © Jackson, Clements & Burrows.

Permanent Camping by Casey Brown Architects find its place in the natural environment using a different method. It uses the materials of pastoral homes and out-sheds. The structure is a two storey copper clad tower. As with pastoral homes, the internal structure is crafted from local hardwoods, in this case, recycled ironbark.

Permanent Camping, Mudgee by Casey Brown Architecture. Image © Casey Brown Architecture.

Australian history goes back much further than the settler-housing that inspires many bush cabins today. We’re pleased to see indigenous-led architecture and design explored and exhibited in Melbourne today. The Koorie Heritage Trust at Federation Square is a great example and last year showed an exhibition called Blak Design Matters. The exhibition asked the question: what is meaningful Indigenous design and why does it matter?

The Koorie Heritage Trust at Federation Square designed by Lyons Architecture and IADV.
Image © Peter Bennetts


Our survey of cabins wouldn’t be complete without a look at how our bush has inspired materials and form. Cabin 2 by Maddison Architects takes the form of the bushland that surrounds it. The angled Moonah trees find a partner in the curved roofline.  

At Made by Pen although we specialize in product design we are inspired by design in its larger form, in cabins and homes. We’ve got a lot to thank them for in a design sense, for showing us how to use space and how to be creative with materials, but mostly for bringing us closer to our sweeping Australian landscapes. 

Cabin 2 by Maddison Architects. Image © William Watt