We spent a long looking for land to build a small house for ourselves. Eventually we found, among established dwellings in the foothills of Mt Wellington, an odd shaped piece of land which has never been built on. Fern Tree is 400m above sea level, dominated by wet sclerophyll forest and subject to snow during winter months. Sylvan, often cold, it was critical to us to build a home which worked on the steep site, provided a warm light interior and remained within our modest budget. Fern Tree can be accused of being dark, cold and claustrophobic in the winter months so for happy living in such a place the house had to be light warm and open. The result is a small house with large apertures and volumes; the Little Big House.
Fern Tree has a traditional of small vernacular buildings clad in vertical board dating back to the early 20th century when the area was a holiday destination. At this time people sought refuge from the summer heat by ascending the mountain and walking through the Tree Ferns. People built small, often refined, timber dwellings and we have done the same.
It was a great pleasure to work within the constraints of a necessarily tight budget as it focused decision making and forces Occam's razor ever closer to the bone, to meaning, to the essence of architecture.
"The building only responds to particular elements of the surrounding landscape and immediate site. This process of editing and selecting gives the internal spaces a heightened sense of these elements. We had faith that an interior composed of only beautiful views would be beautiful to live in" Thomas Bailey.