CLT House by FMD Architects

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    A strong partnership between builder and architect and consideration for sustainable materials is exemplified within FMD Architects‘ CLT House.

    In our Resilient Architecture special feature inside est Magazine issue #38, FMD Architects founder Fiona Dunin said designing resilient homes was all “about responding to the site and the unique climate.” It’s through this approach and in trusted collaboration with the project’s builder,  CCB Envico, Fiona and the FMD Architects team have brought forth an innovative alteration and addition in regional Victoria.

    Originally a modest 70s family farmhouse, FMD Architects’ CLT House now encompasses stripped-back simplicity and modern, sustainable material experimentation. As the project’s name suggests, CLT House’s main feature is cross-laminated timber; demonstrating the goal for resilient architecture through a precise and balanced construction system.

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    Each triangular window offers its own unique view of the treetops and sky while the lower slot windows reveal a closer look at the native flora and fauna.

    FMD Architects introduced a second-floor addition to the original farmhouse to cater to the client, complete with a central library, bar, guest bedroom and steam room. The addition acts as a bridge over the carport, enhancing the experience among the treetops.

    The ‘T’ shaped floor plan is extensive, yet still appears tucked away in the rural hillside. The lower level features the home’s bedrooms designed around a central kitchen, dining and family area. The kitchen acts as a pivot point between the existing ground floor and the new CLT extension, merging materials of old and new with a dark marble benchtop among lighter timber cladding. “The new upper floor addition spans the established gardens on the site and replans this multigenerational family home with a new central core,” Fiona affirms.

    From the outside, the unique rebuilt sawtooth roof is an eye-catching feature. The pitched design angled to the north integrates solar while large 10-metre clear span walls are punctuated with long slot windows for cross ventilation. High-level windows at the peak aim to capture changing light throughout the day, flooding the library and the rest of the upper level in natural light. “It can be both quiet and noisy, serene and playful,” Fiona says. Indoors, the separate wings come together in the centre of the home to promote togetherness. 

    “Typical daily experiences are elevated beyond ritual to full immersion with nature and being surrounded by the timber interior bring a constant calm and soothing experience.”


    – Fiona Dunin

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    The CH24 Wishbone Chair by Hans J. Wegner for Carl Hansen + Son features in the library area, complimenting the exposed cladding structure made from cross-laminated timber.

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    The kitchen features the Thermoseal oven from Smeg, Liebherr pantry fridge and Qasair rangehood.

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    The kitchen, dining and family area interconnect to evoke an openness for the home’s inhabitants.

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    The library area opens out onto a large elevated terrace, connecting to the main bedroom, and overlooking the extensive garden area, featuring the Butterfly Lounge Chair by Cuero.

    The use of cross-laminated timber is both an integral functional and aesthetic aspect of the design which emphasises the resilient Australian home through the limited use of steel. The timber cladding is sourced from Stora Enso, while the structural CLT and Glulam for internal walls are from XLAM, enhancing the modern Australian feel in the kitchen and bathroom.

    Internally, CLT’s raw beauty is celebrated through exposed timber on the walls and floors. This demanded absolute precision in the construction system, as all structures and screw connections are presented. Elements such as bookshelves, desks, pivot doors and bar units are also made from the cross-laminated timber to further celebrate the refined material. FMD Architects also introduced a series of structural improvements within the refurbishment, including motorised ventilation slots in the roof peaks to release excess heat in summer which work in conjunction with industrial ceiling fans, as well as double glazed windows and wall insulation for maximum comfort in the scorching summer heat.

    In the library, lighting is cleverly integrated into the ceiling beams and walls just as key design pieces have been selected for their neutral palette. In the kitchen and dining area, the Johansen Table by Mads Johansen for Snedkergarden is accompanied by dark timber No.18 Thonet and No.B9 Le Corbusier chairs. The library features the CH24 Wishbone Chair by Hans J. Wegner for Carl Hansen + Son , as well as the Cloud Sofa by Prostoria and Butterfly Lounge Chair, which invite relaxation within the shared space.

    The CLT House is a refined and structurally precise example of the important relationship between architect and builder. With a careful and informed construction system, FMD Architects have created a multifaceted family home with the resilience to exist in the rural Victorian landscape for years to come.

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    The angular matt Colourbond roof not only promotes sustainable measures but provides a distinct interpretation of the modern Australian farmhouse.

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