Victoria Weekender, Australian Rural Property Photos, Melbourne Residential Building, Architect

Trunk House, Australia : Central Highlands Weekender

Contemporary Australian Outback Home design by Paul Morgan Architects

7 Mar 2012

Australian Outback Home

Design: Paul Morgan Architects

Location: Central Highlands, Victoria, Australia

Trunk House, Australia : Central Highlands Weekender

Photographs: Peter Bennetts

Australian Outback House

This project has evolved the building type, the small weekender, by answering a simple question – how does one go into a forest and use the forms of the ecology to build a house?

The project is a small cabin in Victoria’s Central Highlands. The clients are medical practitioners/ academics with a daughter attending university. The brief included a living area, small kitchen, bathroom and two bedrooms. They asked for a small forest cabin in which they could practice choral signing. They desired a small habitat that connected them with the isolation one finds in a forest, and the closeness to the birdlife.

Trunk House Central Highlands Trunk House Victoria Trunk House Central Highlands Victoria

Our practice was interested in the forms of bleached bones of kangaroos and sheep found lying around on farmland. When considering these bones, we were particularly interested in the thickening of the joints required to carry additional loads, and how these structures could be interpreted in found timber. This idea developed into utilising tree forks or bifurcations as the structure for the cabin.

Trunk House

The bifurcations were sourced from forest floors and farmland, and, due to their age, were well seasoned. They were joined to straight columns with internal metal plates by a sculptor. An internal column with radiating beams completed the structure, the complete triangulated truss system attaining great inherent strength.

Stringybark trees were removed from the site to make way for the new house. A mobile milling machine was delivered to site, and the lining boards were milled, cured on site, and then fixed internally. The figuration of the boards in the living room has great character, and relates to the experience of being in the forest. It also results in a minimal carbon footprint for the sourcing and installing of the lining boards.

Trunk House Trunk House Central Highlands Trunk House Victoria Trunk House Central Highlands Victoria

The design sought to achieve an almost transparent relationship with the surrounding forest, achieved through an eco-morphological transformation of remnant timber into structure. It developed the typology of the small Australian house, conflating it with the precedents of the primitive hut and the tradition of Aboriginal structures.

Trunk House images / information from Paul Morgan Architects


Australian Rural House


Design: Paul Morgan Architects

Location: near Melbourne

The site, located an hour and a half drive west of Melbourne, is a beautiful expanse of extant riparian woodland. The design approach is to provide a two stage residential project (cabin and house) which responds to the ecological dynamics of the site. The main design strategy is to harness the natural forces inherent in timber harvested from the site by utilizing bifurcations in the tree structures in place of conventional connected post and beam structures.

Lal Lal House Lal Lal Cabin

The advantage of these bifurcated joints-usually discarded in commercial tree logging-is their great inherent strength. Other parts of the felled trees will be utilized for roof beams, floorboards and scantlings for tracks/steps. The result is an eco-morphological harvesting of the forest, and the sustainable use of all parts of the tree.

Australian Rural Cabin – Building Information

Project : Trunk House
Architect: Paul Morgan Architects
Status: Due for completion in 2010
Location: Victoria, Australia
Project Team: Paul Morgan, Karla Martinez, Andrej Vodstrcil
Engineer: Peter Felicetti
Landscape architect: Cath Stutterheim, SAALA

Images and Text: Courtesy of Paul Morgan Architects

Australian Rural House images / information from Paul Morgan Architects 190209 / 020110

Australian Outback Home design : Paul Morgan Architects

Location: Lal Lal, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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