Elegant autonomy: sitting lightly on the fringe of a forest near Hobart, this dwelling designed by 1 + 2 Architecture is a tribute to stylish self-sufficiency

Elegant autonomy: sitting lightly on the fringe of a forest near Hobart, this dwelling designed by 1 + 2 Architecture is a tribute to stylish self-sufficiency

A REFINED CONTEMPORARY AESTHETIC combined with a rigorous program of self-sufficiency drove this design by 1+2 Architecture. To be able to live independently of town services — and to meet high standards of energy efficiency — were the clients’ main requirements. The architects have interpreted this by employing steel, glass and timber to bring a sleek modern look to the project, as well as to execute the specific design details that contribute to the building’s overall sympathy with environmental concerns.

A simple linear plan distributes living and sleeping areas along an extruded footprint, while glazing dominates the north-facing elevation to maximise panoramic views of Mount Wellington and the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. On this steep block, entry to the dwelling is via a bridge that steps down into a foyer and a covered deck located in the middle of the footprint. This central core divides the sleeping quarters and study from the living, dining and kitchen areas at the other end of the house. From the central entry and deck, a few more steps lead down to an external lower deck.

This logical sequence of indoor and outdoor spaces is oriented for excellent solar gain and to give the occupants an intimate connection with the views and the immediate forest landscape. The roof angles up to create a double-height volume along the northern elevation, allowing maximum exposure to the views and space for a loft in the bedroom section. “While small in area, the flow of internal and external spaces, the lofty ceilings, and the flexible open plan living all combine to create a heightened awareness of space and light,” says architect Cath Hall.

Double-glazing and two layers of deep eaves and window shading devices protect the interior from solar penetration in summer, while an insulated black concrete floor functions as a highly effective thermal mass in winter. This generates heat flows back to the service rooms and circulating zones, which feature timber floors laid flush with the concrete. The thermal heating system is augmented by bulk insulation to the entire building envelope.

In accordance with the clients’ wishes, the building has been designed to operate autonomously, with no connection to town power, water or sewer facilities. “All power is generated by the sun, rainwater is collected for all household and garden uses, and waste is dealt with on site via a composting toilet system and on-site grey water distribution,” explains Cath. The entry approach to the house reveals its sell-sufficiency: the water tank is nestled alongside the entry bridge, and the canopy roof over this bridge is angled to effectively operate as a site for solar collection.

The architects’ challenge was to seek a balance between subscribing to a contemporary aesthetic, meeting a number of sustainability and energy efficiency objectives, and relating the building to its rural forest context. “The embodiment of this is found in the coming together of materials,” says Cath. “We’ve combined naturally-finished, precisely-milled timbers with the precision of steel and glass to create an architecture which sits in balance with the natural environment.”

A steel structural system has been employed to achieve cost effective long spans and cantilevers, with minimal structural depth. The steel members are coated in zinc silicate for economic long term corrosion protection, and the steel structure itself provides an essential fire-resistant ground connection for protection from bushfires. The steel structure also supports the suspended 170 mm concrete slab that forms the flooring along the northern elevation. External cladding of madison-oiled celery top pine references the nearby forest, while the zincalume coated steel roof completes the hardy, contemporary rural aesthetic.

The use of steel has allowed the architects to conceptualise the building as a series of internal and external platforms, raised well off the ground via slender poles. This has minimised disturbance to existing geology, flora and surface water patterns. The curved slatted timber element forming the lower deck balustrade serves to visually connect the building to the ground, by partially screening the void underneath the structure. As a design element, this curved screen contributes a sense of visual balance to the composition of the north elevation. Also, being stepped down from the main floor, the deck allows views from the living areas without interruption from the balustrade.

Using an elegant and robust palette of materials, and employing an enabling and versatile structural system, 1 + 2 Architecture has amply met the challenges set by this brief. A sleek modern look, combined with a rigorous program of environmental sustainability, is achieved in this compelling, autonomous building that sits lightly but enduringly in its rugged context.



1 + 2 Architecture

31 Melville Street

Hobart Tas 7000

Tel: (03) 6234 8122

Fax: (03) 6234 8211

Email: mail@1plus2architecture.com


The practice consists of two architects and one graduate architect, and has experience in a broad range of projects.


Oath Hall, Fred Ward, Mike Verdouw


F R Sikkema Builders


Engineer Gandy & Roberts


Roofing Lysaght zincalume custom orb; Braford Thermofoil sarking; R3.5 ceiling batts External walls Celery top pine; madison oil finish Internal walls Plasterboard, painted; R2 wall batts Windows Double-glazed wrc frames; Intergrain finish; Truth Hardware Doors Sliding, double-glazed wrc frames; Intergrain finish; Truth Hardware Flooring Conorete slab; Lustreseal acrylic sealer, tinted charcoal; Tasmanian oak t & g, clear sealed Lighting Lv downlights Kitchen Hoop pine plywood, clear finish; Laminated Tasmanian oak benchtop Bathroom Waterless Nature Loo composting toilet; Caroma fittings and tapware Climate control Lysaght mini orb sunshading; ceiling fans Other Solarex SX-80 photovoltaic modules; Beasley hot water systems


Design, documentation 7 months

Construction 6 months


$143,000 (plus works by owner $25,000)

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