more than just a timber shed
At a distance from the CBD that would burn less than two litres of bio-diesel in an architect's Golf, on a cleared rise in a wooded landscape north of Melbourne, stands a new dwelling. Like all new buildings in this region, it is built to comply with the State's bushfire building regulations. Yet it appears to be made entirely of timber. Timber clad it is, but comply it does - the cladding being a strong 28mm thick wall of Blackbutt - a naturally flame-resistant species with good durability credentials.
Hill Plains House is another work by Jerry Wolveridge of Collingwood's Wolveridge Architects. A build incorporating the essential elements of ESD including concrete slab floor, rainwater capture and storage, solar energy panels and passive heating and cooling. Track mounted timber shutters stand prepared to glide across the glass windows in the event of grassfire or ember attack from burning woodland. The fortress impression is assuaged by salients of black glass which shield the entry and, on the courtyard wall, frame a shower stall. You can see out, but the wombats, reassuringly, can't see in. Privacy issues don't really get any more complicated than that at Hill Plains House.
The silhouette of Hill Plains House is a nod to both rural sheds and to the vernacular bush cottage. It repeats a simple gabled form that is found throughout decades of building in Australia, but avoids repetition in the essentials of design. Paring down the many conventions of home building is at the heart of Wolveridge's work. That and balance in use of materials. New materials such as large pane insulating glass allow light in. Slab floor and a heatbank wall behind the wood firebox retain the generated warmth, while suspended ceilings are disposed of as unnecessary. Older materials such as timber are used relentlessly. Don't throw out materials that have proved themselves time and again, this building says. Stick with them.
Many specifiers are bothered that because they imagine a post to be square in sectional dimension
- rather than rectangular - then the world of salvage should not refuse to go along with their dispositions. To the benefit of his building, Wolveridge has an appetite for
'found' dimensions in salvage. It could just be an ability to imagine otherwise. He trawled the bridge timber stacks at
Timberzoo in Moolap to find durable, chiselled face Tallowwood bridge beams to perform as pergola posts. A raw counterpoise to the fine milled lines of the cladding and the sharp angles formed by glass and steel. He haunted the offcut bins and falldown grades of short timbers, which he then docked further to build an
end-grain faced timber wall. A blocky tribute to the recycled Messmate rustic lining boards in his ceilings and to the Messmate woodlands in surrounding hills.
The recycled Messmate ceiling lining has been oiled with a black Japan wash and seems sharp in focus against the blur of age in the walls. Wolveridge's 'wallpaper' is a stacked horizon of reclaimed abraded time-worn floorboards. Forget sanding and polishing. This is an earth look. The texture of history and a certain chutzpah you might call tenacity.
It takes me off topic for a moment, but I can't resist this bit of mythbusting. Clients looking at reclaimed floorboards often include in the mission statement a request for a hard timber
- as though boards with a mid-range (800kg/m3) in wood density lack the ability to go the distance. I'm unsure what they imagine. They are
- perversely - the type attracted to old warehouse floors with deep abrasions and scratches peppering the resanded finish
- but I have a theory on it. It's all about Chinese chairs and Italian shoes. They do not question the ability of a 1.2mm thick polyurethane coating to resist blemish from a directed force of 60kgs in less than 0.5 square centimetre of heel, but somehow imagine that a wood density of 1000 to
1100kg/m3 beneath the plastic film will make it absolutely certain. Tell
'em they're dreaming.
There is a secret ingredient to
Wolveridge's new take on the Aussie shed. It
is a shed. The fundament, the bones of this
construction, is an off-the-rack steel shed in a floorplan size straight
out of a farm shed catalogue. Wolveridge saw the display ad in the
Weekly Times like everyone else, rang them up and put it on
his MasterCard. Starting with a portal frame bolted to a concrete slab,
he then progressed to the bespoke elements - to turn it into an
insulated, low-energy home. But maybe I wasn't supposed to tell you that
in stock in april
Bridge Timbers for your Pergola Posts From $60.00/m
Another load of Gippsland Timbers have arrived. Hell! We've still got half the Barwon Heads Bridge left. Where we gonna put them?
It means you have plenty of choice. See our
Bridge Timbers page for images.
Rustic Lining Boards in Recycled Messmate $33.00/m2
I've always said this is a shopfitters line or a verandah soffit board on Dad's shed, but the Hill Plains House has used it in a
Wharfdeck in a Class #1 Durability Hardwood Forest Reds 135 x 32mm $14.90/m
There's often no substitute for a Class 1 decking. Over water or close to ground, it will last a long time.
We don't sell Merbau for reasons unrelated to durability. However, compared to Forest Red Gum and Red Mahogany, it's pretty plain in appearance.
'Wallpaper' of Reclaimed Boards
Some batches of reclaimed floorboards
- in this state, Tasmanian Oak predominates - have a great aged patina at point of sale.
KD Brushbox 280 x 32mm $39.00/m
This width of board will give service as a stair tread, but will also suit a range of furniture uses.