The Seed House was one of 5 houses on show on the AAA Residential Tour on the 7th March 2020. On arrival, not much was revealed from the street of the house except for the garage. However, once inside, the interior was stunning.
The entry to the house was approached by steps down from the street. The site is very large and fan shaped. It is narrow at the street and becomes wider as you move down the site. This geometry is reflected in the wedge shaped form of the house. The site connects with the bush reserve below which adjoins Sugarloaf Bay.
James Fitzpatrick is the architect and owner of the house. His approach was experimental as he explored different ideas in the choice of the fittings, finishes and materials to achieve his design ideas and then the final built form. These decisions influenced the interior and exterior aesthetic of the house. James labeled the house as his “forever house”.
This house was a labour of love. James wanted to create a low energy, healthy and natural home that would adapt with a young, growing family.
The thesis for the design of the house came from the seed pods of the surrounding angophora trees on site. James designed the internal spaces like these seed pods found on these trees. The seed pods are open at one end, so James assembled a series of these “pods” as internal spaces which have an open end and orientated to frame different views of the site. These internal spaces are assembled in a “bigger pod” being the shell of the house.
The entry to the house was modest in size, but as you moved into the main body of the house, the scale of the spaces increased dramatically and all blended into one in the middle of the house. It was obvious that timber was the chosen material as it was expressed predominantly throughout the house by being used to line the internal walls. A variety of timbers were used.
The house utilises cross laminated timber or engineered timber construction. This timber was modeled on a computer. By adopting this method, all the internal timber lining for the walls, ceiling and floor have all the joints aligned with each other. This contrasted with all the surrounding trees on the site.
There are no expressed posts or beams to be seen. All the timber is held together by screws. There is a minimal use of paint and no plasterboard was used in the build.
Another type of timber was used in the build of the house. This was hydrowood which is timber recovered from Tasmanian’s drowned forests. Some timber had to be craned on site.
Stone has been incorporated into the build and was sourced from on site. Other materials used in the house are steel and concrete.
The house took 8 years from inception to move in. 3 of those years were dedicated to the design of the house, resulting in 400 drawings. The actual build time was 2.5 years. James had an amazing attention to detail and no detail was overlooked.
Everyone walked away from the house amazed by what an architect can achieve if the budget and ideas are there.
This house was the overall winner of the 2019 Australian Timber Design Awards.
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- Article: Ben Gerstel
- Images: Annette Dearing