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Into the forest | Milkbottle

Into the forest

Rudd

In a eucalypt thicket on the edge of Torquay – the out-of- Melbourne surfing Mecca that constantly makes the list of world’s ‘best small town tubes’ – the home of singer/song-writer Xavier Rudd can be found…but not easily. As you’d expect of one whose fame frequently incurs the intrusive fan, the preservation of privacy relies on some serious off-road routing. For those not familiar with the sounds or success of this indie performer, made legend by simultaneously playing up to six of his 30 instrument armoury on the world’s music festival stages, Rudd is at-home famous for flouting the diktats of a prescriptive music bizz and still making it big. But he’s also an on-the-rise star in Europe, the United States and Canada, where his unique blend of Aussie earthiness and folksy blues (gorgeous Weissenborn steel guitar swirls grounded by rumblings of didgeridoo) have earned him a fan-base that includes fellow grass-roots artists Ani di Franco, Jack Johnson and Ben Harper. You could call him a musician’s musician who, though lacing his lyrics with reflections on racism and the environmental crisis, and adding his voice to public rallies that oppose the development of the world’s sandy spots, loathes the tag ‘celebrity activist’, preferring to describe himself quite simply as a vegetarian and a “full-time bare-footer” (he owns not a single pair of shoes).

But when the bare-footed Rudd, opens the door and ushers this first-time guest into a entry cavity sculpted with the cosseting crudity of a cave, before leading the way into a mud-lined living and dining space served by a house-heating Aga style cooker and presided over by two worm-eaten sentries that were once supports for the Geelong pier, I think maybe he is the real deal. The ensuing roll-call of in-house systems confirms it.

The house camouflages into the forest of encircling manna gum trees. From this west side of the site the double storey sleeping section dominates. Wanting a house with minimal impact on the land, Rudd commissioned
architect Ricardo Zen to create a self-sustaining timber home in a forest of manna gum eucalyptus trees. The small foot print of the building was designed to weave between the trees that evolved along a well worn wallaby track. The mud-sprayed, hay bale house was clad in timber radially cut from logs of silver-top ash found in a paddock. No trees were felled for the job. In the living section the dining-room steps down to a sunken seating area where straw bales were sculpted into seats before the mud render solidified their form. Xavier cut foam cushions to fit their specific geometry and had
them upholstered locally in a fabric that fitted with the overall neutrality of the interior scheme. Old indigenous eel traps serve as soft filter shades for lights.
left The house camouflages into the forest of encircling manna gum trees. From this west side of the site the double storey sleeping section dominates. Wanting a house with minimal impact on the land, Rudd commissioned architect Ricardo Zen to create a self-sustaining timber home in a forest of manna gum eucalyptus trees. The small foot print of the building was designed to weave between the trees that evolved along a well worn wallaby track. The mud-sprayed, hay bale house was clad in timber radially cut from logs of silver-top ash found in a paddock. No trees were felled for the job.
right In the living section the dining-room steps down to a sunken seating area where straw bales were sculpted into seats before the mud render solidified their form. Xavier cut foam cushions to fit their specific geometry and had them upholstered locally in a fabric that fitted with the overall neutrality of the interior scheme. Old indigenous eel traps serve as soft filter shades for lights.
A quiet terrace with a beautiful view.
A quiet terrace with a beautiful view.
The forest of manna gums is dotted with crudely carved seating made from the remnant trunks of fallen trees. All timber used in the construction of the building, including stair treads, is recycled.
left The forest of manna gums is dotted with crudely carved seating made from the remnant trunks of fallen trees.
right All timber used in the construction of the building, including stair treads, is recycled.

Images: Earl Carter via Taverne Agency. Words: Annemarie Kiely. Zen architects

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