Sawmill House

The Sawmill house was a collaborative project between two brothers. The open plan house, made up of a single room with pivoting walls that can divide the space, was constructed with reclaimed concrete blocks and sustainably sourced local macrocarpa.

Built on the site of a sawmill that was once a gold mine, the house makes the most of its pristine natural surrounds. Views over the bushland are a feature of the open construction. The client was the instigator of the project, bringing in his architect brother to help with the design, and so the house was finished entirely to his specifications. His young family is very much at home in this combination house/sculptural studio.

Architect: Archier

Engineer: Benjamin Gilbert; Don Moore

Builder: Benjamin Gilbert

Client: Benjamin Gilbert


The main structure of the house is built with reclaimed concrete blocks. These are made from the concrete left over in a cement mixer that is poured into a rough metal trough, leaving a solid block that is difficult to use. The fact that the Sawmill house utilises these blocks makes it much more sustainable than the amount of concrete would normally imply.

The rest of the structure is mostly macrocarpa that was harvested from storm-felled trees in the area. The exterior walls of the house have large sections that are open to the wind and the large wall that abuts the verandah completely slides away, allowing for passive cooling of the house, and the verandah roof partially slides back to let the sun warm the house in the colder seasons.

The rough blocks form a distinctive exterior to the house, being far larger than bricks and, due to their recycled nature, having slightly different hues and shapes. The retaining wall is also built from the same recycled blocks.

The verandah, made from the same macrocarpa wood that panels the interior, runs the entire length of the house. A screen encloses the whole verandah that can be slid to one side, opening up the verandah, as well as the whole interior of the house.

The house is built as one large room with panels spaced at certain points that can pivot, forming walls that can divide the room into separate spaces or allow the wind to cool the entire space as required by the occupants.

A nine-meter wide door leads onto the verandah. It can be completely opened up, creating a large entertaining space looking out over the surrounding bushland.

The master bedroom has one wall that is completely open to the outside, leading into a small private garden that can be enclosed by the verandah wall.

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