Award winning project delivers the ultimate recycled space

20 Aug 2015  |  Fireplace  |  Firewood  |  Architecture Award

A winning collaboration delivers the ultimate recycled space and takes out top Architecture awards

Samwill awards

Collaboration between two brothers with a keen appreciation of the industrial past delivers a beautiful flexible living space, built from surprising recycled and renewable materials.

And the choice for heating this very modern structure? A wood heater – the perfect renewable solution.


An old sawmill and goldmine is the site of a beautiful adaptive building, an open platform residence with a great northern aspect and views down the valley into the bush - the Sawmill House.


The boundary walls are built from reclaimed 1 tonne concrete blocks that the architect had noticed farmers using as dam walls years before. A nice by-product of this is that the house is now a patchwork of all the other projects in the region: the local foot paths, people’s houses or a farmer's shed.


The concrete blocks inspired much local discussion about design and alternative building materials and led to the local concrete yard manufacturing the blocks for commercial sale – a very smart up-cycling of a carbon intensive material.


The 9 metre long sliding door completely opens the main living space to the deck and view beyond.  This door was made from an old Red wood tree that once stood in the play-ground of the local boy’s school, and the brass rolling hardware was hand turned by an old family friend.


Timber was sourced locally and the brothers spent a few days sorting through packs of rough sawn red stringy that would eventually become the ceiling, floor and walls of the house. 


When it came to lining of the joinery wall that runs the length of the dwelling the brothers knew something special was required – a reference to the past precious metals which were mined there. After some experimentation a thin patinaed brass sheet provides a beautiful glow and texture to the space.


All the furniture and joinery are custom built, designed on the fly and built, when at all possible, using materials from the artist’s workshop.The bathroom sink is a great example.  A sheet of copper, left over from an art project, is beaten into shape in an afternoon.


The Sawmill House merges modernist architecture with an industrial rural site.  The texture of the blocks ground the building to the quarry, as the different layers of colour within them mimic the sedimentary layers of the exposed earth.  The untreated, rough-sawn timber screens reference the old sawmill. 


The wood fire in the heart of the living space is a positive affirmation of reuse, recycle, renew.

The renewable energy from wood, the historical importance of the hearth, the efficient warmth from modern wood heaters, underline the philosophical choices of the brothers.


The Sawmill House illustrates the positive reuse of waste materials. A collaboration of brothers, a conversation between past and present, resourceful building materials and a flexible open structure has created a truly beautiful space and a testament to a waste-not, want-not philosophy.



...Stay warm!