Project Feature

Sitting Snuggly in Tasmania

Hobart, TAS, Australia

Catherine Ashbridge

This Tasmanian home, sitting peacefully in a tranquil bay south of Hobart, celebrates a masterful statement in architecture.

Elms House, by Stuart Tanner Architects, is located on an escarpment overlooking Snug Bay, perched strikingly, yet discretely, spanning an undisturbed outlook to eucalypts and the water beyond.

The Elms House by Stuart Tanner Architects. Photography by Brett Boardman.

The client brief from a couple entering retirement was for a predominantly single-level home, with the architects giving particular attention to the floor level working in with the moderate incline of the land. A resulting protected entry point, leading to a sheltered podium, releases the view to the trees and water beyond.

Locally sourced materials were used throughout the construction of Elms House. Photography by Brett Boardman.

Receding from the boundaries to create a fringe around the perimeter, the design was worked in to a tight building envelope imposed by the historical zoning of the site, and the single level brief.

A prominent steel beam wraps the home, creating a protection and concealing the roof structure within its depth. The beam additionally creates a separation between horizontal and vertical elements, providing for external divides and designated zones.

Stunning views of the surrounding landscape featured prominently in the design of Elms House. Photography by Brett Boardman.

The internal palette is unobtrusive and minimal. Raw materials of concrete brickwork, timber flooring and steel, all create a natural fusion with the surrounds. White plaster walls and ceilings, paired with grey masonry feature walls, only enhance the views beyond, extending you outside to a complimentary materiality of concrete slabs, garden beds, steps and loose gravel.

The odd stroke of a vibrant red steel post works in effortlessly with design, expressing a modernist notion, and complementing the grey and raw timber scheme. “Making best use of the Tasmanian light was also important, as was integrating wall zones for their fine art collection,” says founding director Stuart Tanner.

Internal timbers of Spotted Gum are used in proportionately fitting places. The variegated timber flooring, laid perpendicular to the length of the home, compliments the feature walls and kitchen joinery of Tasmanian Oak, and extends the length of the hallway. It is this wonderful hallway suntrap that embodies the timber beautifully in an understated bench seat, designed to capture and embrace the winter sun.

Raw materials are used throughout the interior of Elms House. Photography by Brett Boardman.

The planning of the home revolves around a deep central courtyard, cleverly positioned to grasp the north and western sunshine. An upper level guest wing opens onto the courtyard from thoughtfully screened guest rooms.

“The gentle approach to the site and contour, the understated scale and ability to relate to the immediate garden setting as well as the broader context across the bay, the relaxed use of materials, considered introduction of colour and the success in creating social spaces within and around the building envelope,” are the stand out features says Stuart.

The core principals of thermal efficiency have also been incorporated into the design of this wondrous home. The insulated masonry structure provides resilience and thermal mass, while a fully insulated floor slab contains hydronic heating. Double-glazing is employed throughout, with performance toughened glass and frames recessed into the floor slab and ceiling linings. The durable nature of construction results in a robust composition that will sustain into the future with limited rectification or maintenance required.

Timber flooring connects residents back to the natural environment. Photography by Brett Boardman.

This is a home that commands respect to its architect and to its finished outcome. The culminating character is one of quiet dignity, whilst maintaining the enhanced and complimentary countenance of the site. Sitting low and wide on the escarpment, and in such a secluded setting, a feeling of security and utmost serenity resides.

The external spaces are perfect for entertaining. Photography by Brett Boardman.

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