In the Westgarth Timber House we pursue a ‘realness’ and connectedness often missing in contemporary society and buildings. It’s a reaction to synthetic materials, air conditioned spaces and cellular living.
In an age where clients tell us their kids retreat to bedrooms and communicate with parents via social media, we strive for a house that feels more real. Real materials, real heating, real cooling and real family interaction.
The existing single fronted house was retained for its contribution to the streetscape, the flexibility in its Victorian rooms and its stored embodied energy. Its timber wall, ceiling and floor linings provided a cue for re-interpretation in timber details in the contemporary addition at the rear.
We sourced a diverse range of recycled, salvaged and radially sawn timbers and wove them into a naturally comfortable, site responsive home. This timber is used practically to create sun shading, breeze control and privacy but also imaginatively to create feelings of transparency, floating and seclusion. Conscious that the sourcing of discarded materials was a nest-like approach, we accentuated this in the detailing, abstracting the elements of the scavenged materials to explore the contrasting feelings of living in a nest; Open & breezy but warm & cosy. Semi-Transparent but secluded. Rough & tactile externally but comfortable internally. Over-riding is a sense of floating, perched in the treetops.
The form of the addition responds to the site. The roof rakes northwards maximizing solar gain. Angled timber louvres block summer sun while welcoming winter sun and he upper floor cantilever creates extra floor space while shading rooms below. Cantilevered awnings to the north, east and west float dramatically over windows providing visually compelling, but practical sun and rain protection. South-facing first floor windows catch prevailing breezes over neighbouring rooftops.
The angled timber privacy screens and full height balustrade create seclusion but also function as baffles directing these breezes downwards into living spaces below. The Living spaces are designed to create connection to the external environment outside and foster greater connection between family members within.
The ubiquitous linear Living/Dining/Kitchen layout is turned sideways and elongated so the kitchen is adjacent to the back doors allowing interaction with kids in the back yard and shotgun hallway views to the front door. The north-east oriented void provides dramatic sun and treetop views but also connects ground floor living rooms with upper floor rooms including he floating study loft. Perched in the treetops, this is a place of selective seclusion where family members can seek recluse while still being connected with family life below.
Pursuing renewable, environmentally responsible materials, most timber is local radially sawn hardwoods. Real materials. The various species and sizes are expressed honestly inside and out, celebrating the differencesinherent in the milling process creating authenticity, warmth and tactility.