A Melbourne Couple Escape City Living in This Tasmanian Retreat

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Despite its dark facade to visually recede into the bush, this countryside home boasts bright, light, and cozy interiors.

With a population of less than 400 people, the small town of Pelverata in Tasmania seemed like the perfect place to settle for a Melbourne couple looking to escape the chaos of city living. 

Not too long after stumbling upon this rural destination, the dup tapped Hobart–based firm Maguire + Devine Architects to help bring their dreamy retreat to life. 

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"The mono-pitch roof falls opposite to the stepping plan, creating a tall volume in the living room," says Hugh Maguire, co-founder of the firm. "This allows a high-level window to capture views of the high-forested horizon in the west."

"The mono-pitch roof falls opposite to the stepping plan, creating a tall volume in the living room," says Hugh Maguire, co-founder of the firm. "This allows a high-level window to capture views of the high-forested horizon in the west."

Working with a limited budget, the team designed a charming house with 1,400-square-foot floor plan.

After searching for an idyllic site for their retreat, the couple finally came across a plot of land raised above a valley, which catches great light and overlooks views of Pelverata’s Sherwood Hill Conservation Area. 

After searching for an idyllic site for their retreat, the couple finally came across a plot of land raised above a valley, which catches great light and overlooks views of Pelverata’s Sherwood Hill Conservation Area. 

To circumvent rising building prices in Southern Tasmania, the architects created a small and simple structure, using a limited material palette of Spandek for the external cladding, hoop ply for the interior walls, floors, and ceiling, and fire-resisting stringy bark timber for the outdoor terrace.

In the wide hallway between the kitchen and additional bedrooms is an entertainment and leisure space.

In the wide hallway between the kitchen and additional bedrooms is an entertainment and leisure space.

Using concrete only as piers, the team kept construction light with a suspended timber floor, causing minimal disturbance to the dispersive soils on the site. 

The shallow plan helps with cross ventilation, while a deep overhang to the north provides shade for the living areas in the summer.

The shallow plan helps with cross ventilation, while a deep overhang to the north provides shade for the living areas in the summer.

High ceilings and strategically placed windows make the interior spaces feel larger and more open. 

"The internal hoop ply lining is light, warm, and cozy, while the external dark-metal cladding is a robust protective skin that visually recedes into the bush," says Dan Devine, the firm's co-founder. 

Renewable Plantation Pine was used for the wall frames, floor beams, laminated roof, and plywood lining.

Renewable Plantation Pine was used for the wall frames, floor beams, laminated roof, and plywood lining.

The house is oriented to frame tranquil views of the surrounding forested hills. The main living areas open onto a sheltered terrace that is drenched in light from the northern sun throughout the day. 

The couple wanted a home where they could relax, cook meals, listen to music together, and leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind. 

The couple wanted a home where they could relax, cook meals, listen to music together, and leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind. 

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The north-facing terrace serves as an informal main entrance that leads to a grilling area, and on to the kitchen and dining spaces.

The north-facing terrace serves as an informal main entrance that leads to a grilling area, and on to the kitchen and dining spaces.

The master bedroom is accessed by the threshold of a walk-through dressing room. 

The master bedroom is accessed by the threshold of a walk-through dressing room. 

"Everyday life is celebrated through the design of this modest house; cooking with plenty of natural light and ventilation, indulging in a free-standing bath at sunset with an uninterrupted view of the surrounding vegetation, or arriving home to a warm, sunny home while valley neighbors light their fires," says Devine. 

A skylight brightens the shower area.

A skylight brightens the shower area.

Double-glazed windows and thermal insulation have been used to ensure energy efficiency.

Double-glazed windows and thermal insulation have been used to ensure energy efficiency.

A look at the floor-plan drawing.

A look at the floor-plan drawing.

A sectional drawing.

A sectional drawing.

Another sectional drawing.

Another sectional drawing.

The north-elevation drawing.

The north-elevation drawing.

The south-elevation drawing.

The south-elevation drawing.

Project Credits: 

Architecture: Maguire + Devine Architects 

Builder: Maveric Builders 

Structural engineering: Hutchings Spurr 

Cabinetry: Kingston Joinery