This timber house responds to the challenges of remote building on an island north of Sydney, on a steep, bush site. The site is on a western slope, accessed firstly by boat, then by road and finally via a 150m goat track through a bush reserve on foot. Given the difficulty of delivering materials to the site, the structure was pre-fabricated off site, minimising waste and ensuring only the most essential elements were used. Our desire was to showcase how a substantial timber structure could appear as light visually as steel.
A southern spine contains a structure of small modules that house the service and functional spaces. These connect to the open northern deck area via timber sliding doors opening through the timber structure. The living areas occupy the open northern area and large timber sliding doors peel back along the façade of the building to create a seamless, fluid space. Red Ironbark flooring and decking are used throughout to assist with the continuity.
The columns are paired Red Ironbark sections bolted to Marine Ply and Spotted Gum bearers and I-beam roof trusses via sandwiched, galvanised steel plates. The columns, trusses and beams have rebates designed in them to house glass and linings, eliminating the need for beading.
Spotted Gum timber door heads are mounted externally of the building and are hung from the roof structure above via brass rods. The heads have guide grooves routed into them and the angle guides are fixed to the doors to create a clean and sharp appearance when the doors are open. The northern pop-out storage bay and the bath pop-out are also hung from the roof via the timber heads, maintaining the fine appearance.
Internal ceilings are Blackbutt boards, which were also used to create an insulated subfloor. Given the house is viewed from below these boards were integral in creating the texture of the dwelling. The internal wall lining is marine ply with a white, Murabond finish of an opacity that allows the grain to show through.
The lighting was designed to complement the different timbers and their characters, by bouncing light off the different timber surfaces.
Form ply joinery is used throughout as storage cupboards and in the kitchen as it is a pre-finished, hard wearing panel. The timber benchtops in the kitchen and bathrooms were milled and assembled on-site from a Spotted Gum tree cut down on the house site. This aspect really summarises the approach and detailing that has resulted in a house that has literally grown from its heavily timbered site.