Tasmanian House Shows How to 'Make the Most Out of Quite Little'

Atelier Lev uses vernacular forms and materials to a generous end.

Tasmanian House through gates

Sasha Lev

Jiri Lev is an architect practicing in Tasmania, Australia as Atelier Jiri Lev, designing "buildings that are contextual and regionally appropriate, climate responsive and health promoting, highly functional, durable and inherently sustainable." He tells Treehugger about The Tasmanian House- Phase 1:

"Australia, like most of the world, is in the midst of housing and environmental crises. The Tasmanian House is an attempt address the contemporary problems with a combination of traditional and innovative approaches. The core of the building’s design is the notion of locality, regionality and 'Tasmanianness'"
vernacular barn near house

Sasha Lev

Photos of the area show a vernacular of wood and corrugated steel, so this building fits right in. Lev says it "represents a contemporary interpretation of what the architect believes to be the most beautiful and appropriate of Tasmanian precedents: the Georgian period vernacular." That's defined by Heritage Tasmania:

"In Australia, the Georgian style was simplified and restrained, possibly as a response to the social and environmental circumstances in which the settlers found themselves. Typical houses of the period were made with a hipped roof and a verandah. This style was so appropriate to the new colony that it was used throughout the 19th century for many homesteads."
Materials in the tasmanian house

Sasha Lev

Treehugger has often discussed how building materials should be almost edible, and certainly biodegradable and compostable. And that is apparently the case here, with the exception of the galvanized steel. Lev tells Treehugger:

"To the maximum extent possible the building utilises raw, untreated and locally sourced materials, such as sustainably sourced native and plantation timbers or sheep wool insulation. Paints and chemical treatments were avoided entirely. The use of synthetic materials was minimised to bare compliance with the Australian Building Code. If furniture and few other components are removed, the building can freely decompose and eventually become a certifiable organic garden."
plan of cabin and future extension
Plan of cabin and future extension.

Atelier Lev

Lev notes that "this small cabin represents the first phase of a larger pavilion house," and it might end up as a studio or as a separate residential unit. This is a strategy that is often used, where one starts with a tiny house until they have the resources or approvals to do a larger one. Indeed, his website has an astonishing collection of large houses and schools, and it is sometimes hard to tell which is which.

Interior tasmanian house

Sasha Lev

This one is more modest and less expensive: "The project was built commercially at cost equivalent to a budget off-the-shelf house, reflecting typical Tasmanian inventiveness and ability to make the most out of quite little," says Lev.

Tasmanian house at night

Sacha Lev

He adds: "The building demonstrates the ability of the island state to be wholly self-sufficient in bulk construction materials and it serves as an easily replicable prototype of an affordable, debt-free, locally sourced and delivered housing model."

tasmanian house and clouds

Sasha Lev

A professor of mine in architecture school used to tell us to design for "an economy of means, a generosity of ends." Lev has accomplished that with the Tasmanian House- Phase 1. We can't wait to see Phase 2.