A Stunning Coastal Home, Created From A Revolutionary Building Material

If you’ve been following the 2020 TDF + Laminex Design Awards, you’ll know that two incredible homes in the Residential Architecture category feature a revolutionary building material – cross laminated timber (CLT). But what exactly is this material?

CLT is a panelised material made up of layers of sustainably-harvested timber. It’s also incredibly beautiful, offering a sleek, contemporary look that’s been perfectly executed in this spectacular home by FMD Architects on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. 

FMD’s director Fiona Dunin, and Vistek Structural Engineers, spoke to us about the house’s design, and the incredible benefits of this innovative material. 

Amelia Barnes
Supported by Vistek

CLT is the dominant material of this FMD Architects’ project on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. Photo – Dianna Snape

CLT comes in the form of panels made up of layers of sustainably-harvested timber. Photo – Dianna Snape

CLT generates little waste, is a natural heat regulator, and unlike concrete that creates carbon dioxide emissions, CLT actually sequesters carbon. Photo – Dianna Snape

FMD Architects director Fiona Dunin has long been interested in CLT as a sustainable, strong and attractive building material. Photo – Dianna Snape

The project is an alterations and additions project to a 1970s house. Photo – Dianna Snape

FMD Architects have taken CLT to a new level in this residential project, having not only utilised the material for structural elements, but making it a shining feature of the interiors. Photo – Dianna Snape

Details on the staircase. Photo – Dianna Snape

CLT is celebrated throughout on the walls and floors, with screw connections left exposed to show their inherent beauty. Photo – Dianna Snape

The house design embraces local flora and fauna. Photo – Dianna Snape

A standout feature is the new sawtooth roof, which showcases a rhythmic quality that is both lyrical and rational. Photo – Dianna Snape

Pitched roof elements to the north integrate an extensive solar array on the exterior, while internally capturing the site’s changing light throughout the day. Photo – Dianna Snape

Amelia Barnes
23rd of October 2020

Director of FMD Architects Fiona Dunin has long been interested in CLT (cross laminated timber) as a sustainable, strong and attractive building material. In fact, she’s been exploring this material for over 10 years, and finally had the chance to use it in this recently completed home on the Mornington Peninsula.

Back when this project began, CLT was gaining popularity in Europe, but the material was yet to reach Australia’s mainstream market. ‘It was difficult to access as it was all imported, and specialist engineers who were familiar with the product were limited,’ Fiona says.

With the support of her clients, builder, and Vistek Structural Engineers, the architect patiently waited for CLT’s wider introduction to the Australian market, while researching the material further to ensure a highly considered outcome. ‘As time has progressed, both the consultant’s and our knowledge of CLT developed significantly. The material is now being manufactured in Australia and New Zealand’ Fiona says. 

Vistek have been a driving force behind the local uptake of this new construction material in Australia, educating local architects and builders about its advantages including impressive thermal properties, certified timber harvesting practices, and carbon sequestering qualities.

Despite its contemporary look, this house in fact isn’t a new home, but an update and extension of a 1970s property. The project includes the reconfiguration of the existing house, alongside a new upper-floor addition with distinctive sawtooth style roofline facilitating extensive solar panelling externally, while internally capturing changing light throughout the day. These roof peaks also feature motorised ventilation slots to release excess heat in summer. 

FMD Architects have taken CLT to a new level in this project, having made the material a distinctive feature of the interiors. Used on walls, ceiling and floors throughout with screw connections left exposed, the home has the feeling of a contemporary tree house! Bookshelves, pivot doors and bar units are also made from the material, and lighting is integrated into the ceiling beams and walls as not to detract from the aesthetic. ‘I really think we tried to be the inventors here with CLT to showcase what you can achieve with this material,’ Fiona says. 

The structure was installed in just four days – an incredibly rapid outcome due to CLT’s custom manufacturing process. Buildings are first computer modelled, then created as panels in a factory to a very high accuracy to be assembled onsite. ‘This allows architects and clients to explore complex geometries beyond the reach of most conventional building approaches,’ says Robbie Svars, general manager at Vistek. ‘It is like designing a whole house as one big, beautiful piece of shaker furniture.’

Find out more about CLT on the Vistek website, or register for a free personalised technical session on designing and building with CLT here.

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