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Contributor to Housing
The site was steep and access somewhat limited on the curved, narrow suburban street – ‘but that’s our normal’, David says. ‘When we realised what we were dealing with, the reaches involved and the time period we were working within, we decided to install a tower crane.’ Once the CLT panels were delivered to site, they were craned into position. ‘I think the biggest panel was about nine metres long and weighed 2.7 tonnes. It was pretty easy once we got the hang of it.’
The Seed House is at once imposing and reticent. Despite their impressive scale, the glass-fronted CLT pods, clad in black aluminium and topped with green roofs, sit harmoniously within their bushland surrounds. Inside, the 658-square metre home is a bold celebration of the nexus between the built form and the materials used: pale swathes of natural stone (including sandstone collected onsite) and native timbers (Huon Pine, Radiata Pine, as well as Celery Top Pine and Blackwood salvaged from the bottom of Tasmania’s hydro lakes) are punctuated by black steel.
The vast, timber-lined rooms follow the angle of the pods – narrower at the rear and opening out to take in the views of Sugarloaf Bay via floor-to-ceiling, flush-mounted glazing – with raked ceilings soaring overhead. Again, the apparent visual simplicity of the interiors is the result of complex detailing and technically demanding joinery.
‘The walls are all on an angle and the ceilings are on an angle so we’ve got a compound mitre cut on all the junctions,’ David says. ‘In two of the pods, we had to work out well in advance what width the boards had to be so that when the floorboard hit the wall board, which is on an angle as well, and then hit the ceiling board, all the edges lined up.’
Stepping down the hillside in a series of interconnected spaces, the home is anchored at the rear by a spectacular timber spiral staircase, which elegantly winds down three floors inside a capsule of curved glass and aluminium. It’s an architectural masterpiece in its own right, but achieving the fantastical finish was something of a mathematical nightmare for the DCB team.
‘It’s made out of slabs of CLT, put together in a CNC machine in New Zealand and shipped over,’ David explains. ‘We did a 1:1 printout of the treads, the top part was already predetermined and the mid-flight was already predetermined…so where we started on the bottom, it had to be right.’ The treads were fitted individually, threaded up and over a six-metre post.
‘As we fitted each tread, each one had to be glued and screwed [using hidden screw locations], and then as we went up, the column had to be grouted, so it was a long process.’
This mammoth project was completed in 2019 and David says the architect is ‘very proud’ of the finished home, which has already attracted plenty of industry recognition. Visionary in both design and execution, it illustrates what can be achieved when possibilities are tested.
‘A lot of what we did on this home had never been done before,’ David says. ‘Our amazing staff embraced the project and had the dogged determination, endurance and skill to overcome every obstacle.’