More Than a Little Luxury
Perched on the side of a hill in the seaside town of Lewisham, 40 minutes’ drive from Hobart, is a new little house that’s getting a lot of attention. A wealth of high-end design and curated materials deliver warmth, and an outside-in philosophy brings the rugged beauty of Tasmania’s seascape into the palette. It’s no wonder it features in this year’s TV Series Grand Designs. Owner Alice Hansen wanted to create a home that was small and beautiful - a celebration of what Tassie is. “I wanted the house to let Tassie do the talking. I wanted simple lines with not too much going on so that nature could be drawn in. I wanted the house to be a shelter more than anything else. To cocoon me from the outside, but not detract from the external environment,” says Alice. “I also wanted an outdoor bath, and to be able to see the stars from my bed at night.” “Hydrowood is such an epic feel-good story” — Alice Hansen, owner.
A Tasmanian Showcase
Grand Designs became interested in the project because their viewers had requested more Tasmanian content. For the materials within the house, Alice steered the architect towards locally sourced. “Anything that can be Tasmanian, let’s make it Tasmanian,” she said. “For the flooring, couch and bath I chose a timber called Hydrowood because of the story behind it. The fact that the timber has come from deep down at the bottom of a lake captures my imagination. To sit in my bath and think about where the timber has come from is worth a premium.” In fact, Alice said that she thinks showing Grand Designs the video of Hydrowood being harvested, sealed the deal to have the house feature on the show. Hydrowood is harvested from a forest that was submerged 50 years ago beneath a man-made lake created for hydro-electricity production. “I also love the story of the people behind the timber. I know Dave and Andrew. Dave is a pilot, and he was flying over the lake one day and thought, I wonder what is underneath?” Despite being told it couldn’t be done, the two Tassie entrepreneurs set about finding out how to reclaim the timber. They came up with a world first. “Hydrowood is such an epic feel-good story - when I went out there to the lake, I was blown away.”
Inside the Cocoon
You won’t find a television in the Alice Hanson house. Instead the focal point is a custom-made hanging fireplace forged from steel by a local blacksmith, and the everchanging landscape. To take advantage of the natural theatre outside, a custom-made Hydrowood Oak and leather couch was crafted by Simon Ancher Studio. “The brief was for a timber-backed couch with a leather finish. The rest was all Simon [Ancher]. I wanted the makers to have a say in how they wanted each piece in my house to look. I put a lot of trust in them. Simon said go Tas Oak, so I did, and the result is spectacular.” Each piece is designed to work together within the space, so Tasmanian Oak is featured throughout. And, the furniture had to contribute to the functionality of the home. The side tables, by Alan Livermore, are seats, side tables, and storage.
A Home is More Than a House
The ‘Tasmanian-ness’ of the place goes beyond the exquisite views, the wilderness and the love of home. The people make the island, and they’re as varied as the weather. “When the crew from Grand Designs were filming, my neighbour came across to see us a couple of times. The first time she turned up with a bunny rabbit on a lead. The second time she arrived holding a pitchfork because she could see that we were working on the garden and wanted to give us a hand. “The Crew, who are not from here, just couldn’t believe it. The friendliness, the quirkiness, and the willingness to lend a hand. But that’s just Tassie.”