Killora House by Tanner Architects

  • Lara Maeseele, originally from Belgium, was instantly captivated with this treed site at Killora Bay on Bruny Island, in Tasmania.

    “When Tim (Lara’s husband Tim Watson, a structural engineer) and I discovered this place, we knew it would be perfect for a weekender,” Lara says, a designer who collaborated with and works in the office of Tanner Architects. While the rich fern-covered terrain came with its distinctive colour and texture, described as a soft grey, it was the potential view over the bay that excited the couple, who have three young children varying in age from two to eight.

    However, the undulating site has what’s referred to as ‘environmental living’ controls that come with protected white gums that attract the endangered Forty spotted Pardalote parrots. “We could only build within a diameter of 18 metres, and the regulations stipulate that any structure can’t be seen from the water,” Lara says.

    Single level and entirely clad with stained Silvertop ash (selected for its robustness and fire protection properties), the Killora Bay house is divided into two wings. The wide entry portal, which receives the afternoon sun, doubles as a mudroom, with generous built-in storage for the family’s wet gear. However, rather than feeling enclosed, there’s a large picture window that offers unimpeded sightlines into the bush. “I wanted the house to feel part of the bush wherever you happen to be. And in the bedrooms, which are relatively modest in size, these windows and different apertures magnify and extend the spaces,” Lara says. And to allow bush aspects and sunlight to be moderated, timber shutters can be easily manoeuvred and slid into cavity walls.

    The kitchen features white in situ concrete on the bench and splashback.

    On one side of the elevated front deck are two bedrooms and a shared bathroom. While the children occupy one bedroom that contains four bunks, the other, used for guests, also doubles as the children’s play area (the double bed can be lifted and concealed within a wall cavity).

    And on the other side, occupying the second wing is the main bedroom and ensuite and, a few steps below, an open plan kitchen, dining and living area. Framed by windows that also double as additional seating, the living area leads to a generous north-facing deck. “We love sitting around the fire dish, toasting marshmallows and simply looking at the bay through the trees,” Lara says.

    Rather than treating the home’s exterior and interior as two separate entities, the house clearly ‘reads’ as one. Dark stained timber was used for the kitchen joinery and on the floors, and white in situ concrete was selected for the kitchen bench and splashback. The tone could almost be described as ‘sepia’ with many of the dark timber furniture items such as the Ercol vintage armchairs appearing to be ‘carved’ into the living room rather than being an afterthought. Likewise, the grey-coloured tiles used for the bathrooms pick up on the tones of the eucalypts.

    For Lara in particular (Tim was raised in Tasmania), the bush continues to fascinate. “In Belgium, the landscape is a stronger green, and the sunlight is considerably more subdued,” Lara says, who embraced the sky with several skylights when views were restricted. And although this is a relatively modest house, both in terms of scale and materials, it beautifully celebrates and embraces this unique environment.

    The dark stained timber connects the interior with its native Australian landscape.

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