We've waxed poetic about Paul Morgan Architects' quality work before, and the Australian firm's recent Trunk House is no exception. Built out in Victoria's Central Highlands region, this striking project uses wood that is harvested on site -- deliberately including tree forks as part of its structural framework -- material which is usually discarded by the logging industry.
Situated within a forest of Stringybark trees, the project is a two-stage residential project, consisting of a cabin (currently shown) and a house, which is under construction. The architects were initially interested in somehow incorporating sheep and kangaroo bones -- often found on farms and in forests -- as part of the structure. However, their focus soon turned to the natural load-bearing ability of tree forks found on-site:
The advantage of these bifurcated joints - usually discarded in commercial tree logging - is their great inherent strength. The bifurcations were sourced from forest floors and farmland, and due to their age, were pre-seasoned. They were joined to straight columns with internal metal plates by a sculptor. So this ground fuel became building material. An internal column with radiating beams completed the structure, the complete triangulated system attaining great inherent strength.
A mobile milling machine was brought in, so that Stringybark timbers could be milled and cured into boards on location, thus reducing the project's overall ecological footprint, while transforming what the architects call "ground fuel" into usable and strong building material.
The interiors fuse a modern sensibility with rustic charm, while maintaining a sense of fresh openness and transparent flow with the natural surroundings, creating the impression that the house's very structure is part of the forest, rather than apart from it. Best of all, the project's tree-sprung aesthetic is not something artificially produced, but the honest and sustainable result of making do with what is actually there.