Set in Fish Creek, the Old Waratah House uses largely raw materials and organic textures to craft a low-lying and contextually sensitive home in the East Gippsland bushland.
The split level home cascades down the slope of the land, celebrating the natural topography and responding to it with the design. The continuous, raked ceiling profile mirrors the slope of the land, and guides the occupant from the entrance at the top of the hill, down through the home.
Passive design principles were employed to assert the house as a sustainable project. The modest footprint of 135m2 feels open and spacious due to extensive double glazing, operable windows, and the raked roof profile. No air con has been installed in the house, as the continuous flow along the gradient of the house allows air to travel naturally, and a small wood stove provides heating where necessary. Hardwood eaves float generously over windows to provide protection from the harsh summer sun. The timber eaves have been left unlined to save on resources and create a rustic aesthetic.
The design duo at 3Fold consists of Michael Chang, who is also experienced in building, and Bridget Crowe, who is also trained in horticulture.
The Waratah House cantilevers boldly over the graduating landscape. The hovering form allows both minimal footprint on the natural landscape, and a bold visual statement. Using timber stumps instead of concrete lowered the embodied energy of the project, as well as minimising impact on the site. LVL bearers and joists were used to create the cantilever. The engineered timber provides increased structural potential over solid timber construction. The roof system was mainly LVL, with some solid timber, while the walls were pine studs.
In the spirit of re-use, all timber was screw fixed or top nailed without glue to provide ease of deconstruction, and allow appropriate recycling of the resources used.
Silvertop ash was used to clad the house externally. The radial sawn profile was chosen for its exposed grain, and battens were used off the studs to allow for a vertical cladding board. Reclaimed, rusted corrugated iron from local sheds was used as a contrast to the elegantly redressed timber boards.
Bridget Crowe from 3Fold is trained in both architecture and horticulture, so landscaping was an important factor from the concept. A native garden spreads right around the property, filling every view with glimpses of greenery, and working towards the building's footprint being offset by rehabilitation.
Almost the entire home is lined with reclaimed timber boards, salvaged from demolished homes. Reusing timber was an essential strategy in the sustainability process of the design. Overlapped Tasmanian oak boards cover the entire ceiling profile, creating a unity of palette, and a guiding path through the home.
Yellow stringybark stairs are a feature of the entry way, with their smooth finish and light-yellow colour contrasting with rough sawn spotted gum vertical wall linings.
FSC certified solid timber was used for joinery to complement the timber interior linings. 3Fold chose solid timber for the reliability of sustainability certification and ease of deconstruction.
A brick feature wall was placed behind the low emissions NZ made firebox to create a thermal mass for the living space.