Living elegance: Cataract Gorge House

“Simplicity, carried to an extreme, becomes elegance,” said Pulitzer Prize winner John Franklin. This quote resounds in the simple and rich spaces designed by Tasmania’s Plain Architecture, eloquently expressed in Cataract Gorge House, the place founding partner and Director Clare Steen calls home.

Perched above the forested river reserve of Launceston’s dramatic Cataract Gorge, this 200m2 build pays homage to its surrounding landscape through the specification of unrefined materials and its colours – both inside and out.
The family home is harmonious in its proportions, a deft intermingling of simple geometric forms providing dynamic interior volumes. Polished concrete floors and in-situ formed walls make for a cool and clean look, further complementing the elegant simplicity of the home. These materials also provide thermal mass, warming it during winter by catching the low-lying northern sun.    
Clare’s objective was to create an energy-efficient, natural home that connected to the landscape. This was achieved using timbers. 75m2 of 19mm Tas Oak floorboards were used in the kitchen–dining space. Internal elements including window reveals are made of Blackbutt. Spotted Gum external cladding provides bushfire resistance and offers a direct conversation with the surrounding trees. 
For Clare, “​using Tasmanian timber sets up natural affinities between home and landscape.” “Tasmanian timber is also a sustainable choice, limiting mileage and embodied carbon.”
Clare said she loves the beauty and durability of Tasmanian Oak, especially when it can be sourced locally to support Tasmanian business.
“It’s quite incredible how it captures the landscape in its growth rings, and how every piece is unique,” she said. “Slow-growing years, bushfires and other events all visible in the grain.”

Plain Architecture’s aim is to “synthesise a project’s complexities to achieve architecture greater than the sum of its parts; buildings that belong to their site and serve their users with grace – plain and simple.” Cataract Gorge House achieves exactly this.

Bringing design back to its bare essentials can evoke the true essence of architecture, and this theme flows right the way through the firm’s residential portfolio.

Photography by Anjie Blair.

Original Thinkers Podcast

The Details

Plain Architecture
Clare Steen
Launceston, Tasmania
Date Completed:

The Species

The Applications

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