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Mal’s Place

 This small remote home for a single man sought to achieve the stillness and ascetics of a ryokan traditional Japanese journey’s end resting place.


 The construction team was made up of architecture students from the University of Tasmania architecture school as a summer break project.

 A local field stone walled raised platform was constructed in the clearing in the bush and a terrace paved with fire resistant terra-cotta tiles.

 This platform became the workshop for the carpentry of the joined timber frame.  The timber was produced from small diameter Celery Top Pine waste logs taken from a nearby property and site milled with a chainsaw mill to break down the logs and a Lewis mill to square off to a smooth sawn square finish.  The logs were racked on site for a year under cover to air dry.

The Joinery techniques followed the traditional Japanese Joinery styles for use in ‘green’ Cedar type timbers subject to along the grain shrinkage but stable across the grain.  The through mortices allowed for the splice  joints to be tight fitting through the posts without risk of shrinkage away and to tighten longways as the timbers pulled up as they shrink longways along the beams.


Meanwhile a large local field stone spine wall was constructed along the long central access of the building to top sill beam height.  90 tones of stone and mortar went into the wall construction which became a work of art incorporating special ‘brother’ stones of it’s makers, small niches and light fittings as it emerged from the terrace.


A special tree burnt out in the recent bush fires  was identified on the property by the owner and this was selected and trimmed and joined at the ends to at as the central ‘house spirit’ post and was driven into it’s position by the owner on completion of the house as an act of handover and possession and continuity of the place not the building to be carried on through the life of the new building and beyond.

 A grid of leveling tiles the same dimensions as the columns was set up on the terrace to take the column and beam grid.

 The frame raising used the owner and all their friends and most of the wider architectural school to put it all up in a day.

 The roof frame made up of a series of 5 large section roof beams., the ceiling boards were curved over the roof beams and fixed down.  The hardwood purlins fixed down and then the roofing iron bent over to shape.  Outriggers were fabricated and set to the required curve for the eaves and to support the half round gutter elements.


The pre made timber floor panels were dropped in and some hinged to access the sub floor storage bays.

 The corner panel of the main living area was set on a lifting mechanism to raise itself 450mm above floor level (with the 450mm deep storage bay below) to act as a dining table when lifted.  A small hibachi heater was set below the table and the doors could be opened to the snow to allow dinner alfresco to the bush, sky and weather.


A bath was sunken into the terrace and surrounded by a field of stones collected from around the property , the state and from the owner’s collection from around the world.


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