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Tempe House

Tempe is not a location usually associated with pleasant and peaceful natural surrounds. Flight paths and arterial roads characterise the area and an industrial mood has dominated the built environment for more than a century.

Thus the client’s desire to create a private natural oasis within the suburb presented some challenges. The house at Wells Avenue was charming, with locally quarried sandstone as the base to the neglected federation-period structure, but the existing planning and spaces were not suitable to the client’s needs. The brief was to remove the clutter of poor 1970’s additions at the rear of the original structure and create an addition that provided new living areas with bright sun drenched spaces, excellent ventilation and comfortable access to versatile outdoor entertaining and leisure areas, with a strong and fluid spatial connection to the original building.

The position of the new pavilion to the south-western part of the site allowed the north-eastern part of the site to be utilised as protected outdoor spaces. The insertion of timber and stainless steel wire pergola structures, which were designed to be overgrown with native vegetation in the coming years, will increase and improve solar shading and the cooling of warm breezes with time. The rooms in the existing structure were maintained as bedrooms with the new works containing the cooking and living spaces.

The planning of the living area was considered in conjunction with the planning of a swimming pool and Australian black-butt decking entertaining platforms, which were designed to extend the living spaces to the outdoors and around the pool, including an outdoor kitchen.
A desire for a warm, natural aesthetic and a healthy living environment free from artificial and chemical finishes dictated the choice of materials. Australian Hardwood was chosen as the expressed structural element of the additions and the structural system was developed from an initial selection of the most economically sized black-butt timber sections for the spans.
Junctions for the timber were hot-dip galvanised steel brackets. Using 3d CAD modelling to provide simple, cost effective connections of the timber elements, with structural stability of the frame simultaneously resolved in their engineering.
The palate of materials was expanded to include hoop pine plywood for joinery, wall and ceiling linings, black-butt for the large outdoor decks and western red cedar doors and windows. Natural oils were used throughout, showcasing the characteristics of the timbers and allowing for a graceful aging process. The choice of lighting was critical to stressing the natural beauty of the building materials and was achieved economically using standard flood lights and a second-hand 1950’s pendant light sourced by the client.  The predominantly timber interior creates a warm, inherently natural and healthy living environment. All timbers used in the construction were either recycled, plantation or harvested from managed forests.


Australian Timber Design Awards 2005: Best Structural Use of Timber Australia Wide
Australian Timber Design Awards 2005: Best Renovation Open Class Australia Wide
MBA Housing Awards 2005: Best Use of Timber in NSW