Designing a family home in a coastal location became a canvas for accepting the integrity of materials for prominent architect John Tallis. From the very start, materials were introduced to the project with the lengths, size of sheet and natural timber imperfections of materials being integral in the design process.
The Apollo Bay House, in Apollo Bay Victoria, was completed in early 2011. Big River’s Blackbutt ArmourPanel, an engineered hardwood panel has been used extensively for the joinery and wall panelling throughout. Has the ArmourPanel lived up to expectations? John Tallis believes it has and more.
Tallis admires the honesty of the finish of plywood, as opposed to the repetitive yet more ‘perfect’ finish of timber veneer. Embracing the mindset that there would be minimum wastage, Tallis worked around sheet sizes in joinery units and the inherent qualities of the board including random knots, colour variation and the difficulty of achieving sharp clean edges every time. This is often not achievable when designing for a client. ‘Accept that that knot is integral to the material. This is hard to do with a client, but good with my own experimental home’.
With around 78 sheets of Blackbutt ArmourPanel being delivered to site, the sheets were divided up into piles of lightest to darkest. A plan was devised as to the placement of each sheet, be it wall panel or joinery, ultimately creating a consistent aesthetic appeal across the carefully pre-selected areas.
The finishing of the ArmourPanel installation was done by Tallis himself. Architecturally, the desired edge profile would have been a razor edge sharp 1.5mm arras however this was not practical with the material. One compromise was a 3mm arras however this became an acceptable limitation of the panels, as everything had been previously face matched and that was part of the process. An interior Whittle wax, up to four layers in some areas, to seal and finish the boards has given the natural life to the panels beyond expectations.
All up during construction, a mere four to five cubic metres of waste was created from the entire large family home, whilst a typical house would normally expel between 20 to 30 cubic metres of waste. Even then, where possible, excess materials were donated for re-use in construction to nearby building sites.
Eighteen months later, Tallis comments that ‘The joinery is wearing very well. Where a timber veneer would dent, ArmourPanel doesn’t.’
The whole project is testimony to Tallis’s fortitude, by pushing the boundaries and keeping to the original vision for the Apollo Bay House.