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The dynamic faA§ade of Kew House 3 is softened with combinations of Silvertop Ash while the angled legs allow the three storey home to sit lightly on the land.
After being approached by the owners of an overgrown block of land in Kew, Vibe Design Group saw an opportunity to create a home with high design content and a different visual approach.
The finished design sits well in its environs with the street façade clad in Silvertop Ash that will evolve and grey over time, affording the home a sense of belonging in the treed backdrop. Timber continues inside the home where a floor to ceiling veneer clad core makes you feel like you are standing at the base of a large tree. Timber framing was chosen as the main structural element in this project for the ease of on site construction and the integration with steel elements.
Hyjoists were utilized as rafters and floor joists for their stability and large span capabilities. The textural street façade of Kew House 3 boasts a combination of Silvertop Ash profiles. To the rear of the property the upper storey becomes a tree house juxtaposed with an exotec clad form.
Timbers role in this project is to play along with the unique shape and not only grey off and blend into the landscape but also ease our natural reaction to reject an unfamiliar form. On entering the home you are met with floor to ceiling veneer panels with a vertical timber grain that makes them appear like the base of a huge tree. The exact profile of the external Silvertop Ash cladding is introduced into the Lounge room as a feature wall, which brings a casual elegance into this space. Timber ventilated facade house (Casablanca, Chile) is a project of renovation of a wooden house organized according to a new helical staircase which, through the overhang of the new room and the extension of an existing deck, allows a visitor to go up to new panoramic terraces on the roof. Mark and Crystal were an Oregon couple who wanted to build a winter home that would accommodate their cold-weather hobbies.
This custom log home, recognized in Country’s Best 2009 Design Awards, features a gourmet kitchen. Custom interior design elements include: a concrete sink laden with pebbles, stucco walls, and tile murals. A single level with lots of character, the Washington Harbor was designed specifically to blend in with its surroundings. The Hermosa Vista has a kitchen that flows from the formal dining area and out onto the patio, through the innovative NanaWall™ window.  A convenient large pantry with extra oven is the envy of most amateur chefs.
The Montclaire timber frame home plan receives the “Best 5 Plans” Award in Timber Home Living’s 3rd Annual Floor Plan contest. The Log Home Floor Plan Blog is proudly powered by WordPressEntries (RSS) and Comments (RSS). Atlanta-based architecture firm Lord, Aeck & Sargent is the brain behind this beautiful rustic timber home design in Rutledge, Georgia. Despite statistics such as 70% of the developed world’s population live in timber frame homes, and despite the resurgance in the popularity of timber homes in Europe in the last decade, my question is … will timber homes in South Africa remain with such a relatively miniscule share of the local market? The predecessor of the timber home in South Africa are the wood frame and iron clad homes, some imported in kit form from Europe, and others designed and built here – in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. An example of an iron clad timber frame building designed and built locally, is the Globe Tavern in Barbeton, which opened for business in 1887, designed by Arthur Hubert Halder. An example of a remaining timber clad building from that era is the Woodcutter’s Cottage, built in the 1880’s, on display at the George Museum.
After that era of timber frame building, iron clad timber frame buildings fell out of favour with the local authorities, and a period followed when they were all but completely outlawed. Up to the 1950’s, the few timber buildings that were built were still being built of hardwoods. Among the pioneers of this re-introduction of timber homes were Searles Homes in Great Brak River, who initially built timber frame homes to house the staff for their shoe factory. While it’s evident that much of the design at the time was based on practicalities, an exception to this was the magnificent Bruynzeel House in Stellenbosch, with its hyperbolic paraboliod roof, designed in 1960 by Aart Bijl and built by Kees Bruynzeel, a Dutch wood merchant. The majority of timber homes at the time, however, were relatively inexpensive holiday homes built along the Southern Cape coast, many of which were prefabricated. In 1982, some members of the timber building industry got together to form the Timber Frame Builders Association, now called the Institute for Timber Frame Builders, which went a long way in achieving the recognition the quality timber buildings enjoy today, particularly with regards local authorities and lending institutions. This is while the percentage of timber buildings continues to increase year after year in many parts of the world, as people become more aware of the benefits of the systems available. I can only guess that the perception of timber homes as a cheaper & less desirable alternative, perhaps still a result of it’s humble iron clad origins and later cost–effective prefab holiday house, still persist amongst many. Natural Home – many clients chhose to build a timber home because they want a more natural home, that better fits into it’s environment. Ease of construction and time to construct – it takes significantly less time to build a timber home than a similar brick & mortar home. Low embodied energy – Of the various readily available raw materials for building, timber has by far the lowest embodied energy, and if grown in a sustainably managed plantation, is a truly renewable building resource. Treatment – most preservative treatments, which while providing the benefit prelonging the lifespan of timber indefinitely, have not been considered ideal from an enviromental perspective. Contemporary  – driven by technology everything around us is advancing in leaps and bounds.
Building Regulations – Timber homes are included in the South African National Building Regulations standards, in SANS 10082, Timber Buildings. Passion – speak to any specialist timber builder and you are likely to find someone with a passion for their craft and for working with wood. In trying to understand, given the clear advantages and consistently small uptake, I recently set up a poll, along with Timber IQ Magazine, to help determine the attitudes towards timber homes in SA. We had just short of 120 respondents, of which 29% were in the design or architecture field. So, while at best the results could be said to be biased, as it was mostly people who like or have lived in timber homes who took time to do the survey, what I found relevant is that the comments by people who have lived in them showed that timber homes, even amongst this sample group, perform and are generally better than what the perception is.
So to answer the earlier question, will timber homes remain marginal in the built environment in SA? My guess is that is that, as the pressure on resources increases, the efforts to slow down global warming escalate, energy costs escalate, along with the ever increasing technologies, there will be a shift.
Many people have asked why it is that I prefer to design timber frame homes, and more specifically, what the advantages of a timber frame home are. From a purely ecological perspective, a lot less damage is done to the site immediately surrounding a building project when building with timber frame.
The structure of a timber frame wall is essentially a hollow cavity with evenly spaced structural timber studs. Whatever your future change requirements, they will be easier, quicker, less intrusive, and usually a lot less messy with a timber home than attempting to make changes to a conventional brick and mortar home. A more interesting question to consider may be, ‘how many square meters of internal floor area you getting as a proportion of building area? Literally, when it comes to building – assuming you own or are paying to live where you do while building.


Besides the knowledge that you are making a positive contribution to global sustainability, you can also have complete peace of mind about the sustainability of your investment. Build using a builder who is member of the Institute of Timber Frame Builders and you will also have the backing of an organization with a 29 year tack record of promoting and maintaining acceptable standards in timber construction in South Africa.
Timber is strong, light and reliable, making timber construction on site simpler and safer than concrete or steel construction. Timber is also flexible, meaning less chance of structural damage typically caused by heaving clay, or the settlement cracks typicaly found in masonry construction at  the top corners of doors and windows. Modern timber construction also has increased fire protection due to the use of non-combustible linings protecting the frames, the availability of fire retardants, and designing for safety by using mass timber with sufficient charring rates.
With a correctly designed and built timber home you will never have to worry about typical brick homeowners issues such as rising damp, or for those in the Cape, moisture breaching the cavity. Use timber cladding in some of your living areas and you’ll also get the additional benefit of the feeling of warmth and cosyness exuded by natural timber.
Why is it that there are magazines, websites, online interest groups and forums, and building awards dedicated to timber construction? The Queens Park Residence in Sydney, Australia, designed and built by Australian architects CplusC Architects and Builders, is based on the idea of a€?good wood.a€? Displaying the firma€™s love of wood and how it inspires a warm flavor of architecture, this timber home design welcomes residents and guests with an entry sequence leading to a recycled Jarrah door. This sprawling modern home by Hane Wadley Architechture sits overlooking Waratah Bay, Australia - and thus the name. That House, located in Melbourne, Australia, was designed by Austin Maynard Architects as an open floor plan with private spaces. A sunken lounge room surrounded by a pool is naturally the centerpiece of this home renovation.
An architect and interior designer have made their fantasy a reality in this tropical home paradise. Located in South Fremantle, Western Australia, Mewstone II by Swell Homes is a modern expression of texture and color. Located in the Sydney's Balmain Heritage Conservation Area, this project consists of the alteration of and addition to the existing semi-detached houses.
Australian architect Edward Szewczyk designed this modern, stacked house in Sydney, Australia, a term we enthusiastically use to describe both its composition and its features. Multi award winning Australian architects Vibe Design Group designed this glass and wood house in Melbourne, Australia with a modern wing that reaches out and lures you in.
This modern 3-storey house in Brighton East, Australia, makes the most out the very small plot it has at disposal. Described by Australian architect Dane Richardson as a€?sophistication and elegance on the beach,a€? this modern waterfront home is making some waves in Dunsborough, Western Australia.
The house was designed for comfortable beach living, to maximise sea views to the south and out to the bay and point to the southwest, and to allow for maximum penetration of winter sunlight from the north. The house has split levels, which allow it to step down the slope following the contours of the site. The house is ‘off-grid’ and power is produced by photovoltaic panels, with a battery pack and inverter, and a silent running generator providing backup power should there not be sufficient sunlight for several days. This project was done with Tracey and Donald Brink while I was a partner at Tradon Architects & Consultants       (now Brink Architects) in Knysna. The design concept was informed by the clients brief of maximising views of the Knysna estuary to south, the site presenting the constraints of being narrow and steeply south sloping, and our aim of maximising north light in winter to what would otherwise have been a cold south facing house. The house sits tightly nestled in amongst the vegetation and the decks were built to accommodate a large Fig tree whose branches have been allowed to continue through openings in the decking. House Hussey was designed by Jacques Cronje he was while a member of Tradon Architects and Consultants cc. In the early design phase inspiration came from the modernist era and in particular retro 60's and 70's stereo cabinets.
Wrapping the home in combinations of timber allowed this project to be truly unique in shape, without feeling unfamiliar given timber's natural appeal. The illusion is un-interrupted as camouflaged doors access a powder room, cloak cupboard, cellar and an interactive kitchen wall. We use various types and species that play different roles in our projects." Michael O'Sullivan, Vibe Design Group. A spotted gum entry ramp leads to an assembly of Silvertop Ash timbers with clear glazing over that creates a covered entry. This shape is injected with a timber battened eave lining to accentuate the diminishing angle that directs your attention to the pool and outdoor spaces.
The panels wrap an interactive core that houses the cloak, powder room, cellar and integrated kitchen wall. Tallowood Tongue & Groove flooring has been chosen for its colour, grain and livability under foot whilst Spotted Gum was selected as a durable decking. The function of timber ventilated facade is to avoid accumulations of moisture and water in the structure walls. The three levels provide room for extra bedrooms, a large mudroom and a basement-level 3-car garage. This award marks PrecisionCraft’s 12th design award in 2 years, making PrecisionCraft and its design firm the leader in log and timber home design. Exploring this extensive timber & log home floor plan gallery is a great way for clients to generate ideas for their own unique homes. This house made of trees is also in the trees, making it a true a€?treehousea€? by all accounts.
The most well known of these is the Smuts House, pre-fabricated in the UK and shipped to India, and later brought to South Africa where it was re-erected at Doornkloof for Jan Smuts in 1909.
It was only around that time, with the introduction of preservative treatments, that softwoods such as Pine started gaining in popularity as a construction material, and was in the 1960’s that timber buildings were re-introduced as an alternative to brick and mortar.
Others were Elgin Homes in Grabouw, and NST in Knysna, who introduced solid wood and log cabin building systems. Should we not just continue doing things here as we allways have, building most buildings out of bricks and mortar?
For sensitive sites timber construction also allows one to nestle right in between the existing vegetation with minimum disturbance.
In terms of strength to weight, radiata pine, for example, has a strength to weight ratio 20 percent higher than structural steel, and more than four times that of unreinforced concrete in compression. When built to these standards they also automatically achieve the standard required for registration with the National Home Builder Registration Council (NHBRC).
What was most interesting was that 38% of the respondents had previously or currently still, live in a timber home.- and clearly wanted to share the advantages.
And a still relatively small, compared to elsewhere, say 5% shift, represents a 1000% increase. Trees absorb carbon as they grow and this carbon is locked away when the timber is used for construction – so the more timber you use instead of more energy and carbon costly materials such as masonry and concrete, the lower the carbon footprint of your home. Technological advances in design software and fabrication technologies are now starting to allow timber to be cut and fashioned to any shape you desire.


Did you know that, because timber frame walls are so much less bulky than brick walls, you gain approximately 1 sq.m of internal floor area for every 7 running meter of external wall length?
If you have just sold your house in order to build a new one you will presumably be paying occupational rent.
Now consider the fact that a timber frame home typically takes half to three quarters of the time to build than a conventional brick and mortar home. Timber frame homes are included in the South African National Building Regulations standards, in SANS 10082, Timber Buildings. In terms of structural material, radiata pine, for example, has a strength to weight ratio 20 percent higher than structural steel, and more than four times that of unreinforced concrete in compression. Safety in the case of a fire is all about safety of the occupants, and timber homes, designed correctly, meet all of the fire safety ratings and requirements. Furthermore, arrive home on a cold winters evening, and a cosy fireplace or heater will heat the home up in no time. Now I’m not saying that builders who don’t specialize in timber construction don’t care about their work, but you can be sure that most timber builders are passionate about working with wood and take huge pride in their craft.
Inside, the main hallway can be compared to a tree trunk, lined with a rich wood floor and ceiling, and the homea€™s various rooms branching off it in succession. Refining traditional beach-hut architecture, this stunning timber home is framed and clad in wood with extensive glazing which connects it to nature while giving it a cool, contemporary edge. Horizontal forms and gently sloping mono-pitch roofs resonate with the gently sloping and undulating form of the landscape. Appropriate responses sought to resolve the issues of north light from behind the house, the prevailing winds, and maximising views include covered outdoor deck areas to both the north and the south of the house, and elongating the plan form on an east west axis.
Hot water is heated by means of a Vacuum Tube solar panel, and is circulated by a small pump also powered by a photovoltaic panel. Contextual issues resulting from the steep southward slope of the site largely drove the resultant design. Following the contours of the site closely the double storey house has split levels on each floor all connected via a central open stairwell.
Complimenting these spacings are the 40x150 battens at the opposing corner that provide screening to the ensuite window behind.
The illusion is maintained by the use of pivot-hinged panels that close with a magnetic catch, eliminating the recognizable characteristics of a traditional door. Hood location and the idea of living sustainably, they wanted their home to be a winter escape that could still maintain consistent temperatures throughout the year.
Designed for Camp Twin Lakes, a camping program for ill and disabled children, the lake house is a place where campers can connect with nature.
Timber, along with other new lightweight building systems, allows us to be part of that technological revolution – rather than still building the way we were in the pre digital age.
They are also easily designed to meet the requirements of the new Energy Efficiency regulations SANS 10400 Part XA.
I think the timber building industry may soon get very busy, and I invite more participants.
The amount of insulation required for optimal efficiency, as well as to comply with the recent SANS 10400 Part XA Energy Efficiency regulations, differs depending on the climatic zone in which you are building. So thanks to the extreme versatility of timber, your timber home could be anything from a humble log cabin, to a grand Cape Cod style beach house, a sleek glazed all round clad post & beam pad enclosable by sliding shutters, or a digitally crafted open plan contemporary house with a freeform double curved roof.
If you are wanting to sell on completion of the new build the sooner you can do this the better. This is because, due to the low thermal mass and therefore low thermal conductivity of timber frame construction, the structure itself won’t need to absorb heat to warm up before you can warm up the space. So if you are going to be going with the lowest bidder (which in all likelihood you are), why not ensure that at least that is a choice to get your home built by people whose work is their passion. The hallway leads through the structure and into the heart of the house a€“ an open-concept kitchen, living and dining area a€“ and out onto a rear courtyard, where a wood deck encircles the pool.
The homea€™s northern facade is a full glass wall, which floods interiors with natural light and creates a direct connection to the waterfront.
To minimise visual impact up from the coast, the major portion of the south facade is shaded, and the colour palette was chosen to blend in with the vegetation and sand. The sewerage has been split into grey and black water and the plan is to recycle the grey water for re-use. To remain within the regulation 8m height restriction offset vertically from all parts of the natural ground level, the pitch of the mono-pitch roof forms closely corresponding the slope of the ground below.
As a result of the slope and to facilitate solar passive heating and cooling the southern section of the house is constructed with well insulated timber frame construction, elevated above the ground on posts, while the northern service elements of the building, which were cut into the site, are built of conventional masonry construction, which serves as a massing element to take advantage of diurnal temperature fluctuations. The wheelchair-accessible design works into a bigger picture of all-access nature trails winding their way around a pair of lakes. Technological advances in design software and digital fabrication technologies are now to allowing timber to be cut and fashioned to any shape you desire.
In addition, because of the relatively light weight of timber frame materials, less energy is consumed by the transport of materials. Over the lifespan of a typical house countless changes occur with regards its spatial requirements. Even within the confines of the house, you cana€™t escape this wonderful sense of the outdoors. Rainwater is harvested from the roof, with all the downpipes leading to horizontal storage tanks fitted below the house.
To maximise views to the south and light from the north the house was spread over the full width of the site in an east west direction.
Read Mark and Crystal’s inspired living story of how they made their winter home super-efficient as well as tailored to their needs.
The architecture firm held an in-house competition juried by board members and campers, and this organic house made the grade.
And you can be sure that this will at some stage involve building new walls, or breaking old ones down, expanding outwards or upwards or opening up. If you are building a guesthouse or lodge the sooner you can get bums in beds the better for your positive cashflow. Earthy materials like honed concrete, blue stone, timber tiles and white mosaic floors personify nature refined. This wood home sits on a sloped site, with wheelchair access via a curving wooden ramp leading to a deck 15 ft.
Cantilevered living and sleeping areas and a balcony create the illusion of floating within these lush surroundings.
Obviously, respect for the environment was a key consideration in this natural house design, which incorporates sustainable features like high and low thermal mass materials, low-VOC paints and finishes, low-emission glass, a grey-water recycling system, electronic window blinds to curb unwanted heat loss and gain, solar water heating, insulated ceilings and walls, rainwater collection and low-emission cabinet.



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