Ferntree House Two

The opportunity to revisit a project 2 years after it’s previous development in the office (refer Fern Tree House 1) but this time with a new client who had recently purchased the bush site, brought with it considerable site and project awareness but refreshed by the new client’s modified briefing priorities and expectations. It also served as an opportunity to reflect on the practice’s development over many years, with many projects and research (including a significant proportion of Masters research by Gerard and Scott at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology).

Occupying the end of a “line” - manifest in the drive from the city of Hobart up Mount Wellington to this foothill escarpment – from where primary water views to the south are experienced remained a strong conceptual driver, a carry-over from Fern Tree House 1. This iteration of the project however brought with it a re-awakening of the potent connection through the landscape on offer; between the summit of Mount Wellington and southern water views. Eschewing any notion of “line” as physical trace only – this underpinned the original Fern Tree House 1 – the project developed as a desire to capture the moment of “fusing” a trajectory of personal arrival with that of a latent landscape connection from the mountain pinnacle, and jointly projecting out to the southern view from the escarpment.

Externally the house is a lithe, low-lying “container” in the otherwise natural bush setting. It seeks to disappear - stealthbomber like - aided by the blankness of it’s external dark-coloured metal cladding, applied in flat sheets with a gentle tilting off the vertical of the lapped-joints in a rhythm similar to the adjacent tree trunks. The firmly-grounded sense when viewed from most aspects is contrasted by the culminating end projecting off the escarpment edge – a physical accompaniment to the spatial experience from the inside of being projected out “to” the views.

The blankness of the exterior is continued internally in the “public” spaces, furthering the idea of an uncanny container-like object in lieu of any semblance towards the “domestic”. The interior is in fact another exterior and equally “blunt” albeit the external tough metal cladding is replaced with a homogeneous ‘white’ surface. A crumpled ceiling expresses the force of the real (human arrival) and unreal (latent landscape line between mountain and view) vectors pushing in through the container-like internal space and fusing in to a singular projection to the distant water view; the ceiling profile relaxes as it approaches the culminating end space from where the views are experienced, similar to the effect of smoke travelling through a wind tunnel.

In contrast to the blunt, massive scale of the internal space, fine steel armatures are inserted at select moments on to which “events” such as lighting and operable curtains are attached.