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    Circular Tree Top Studio designed and built by Max Pritchard

    Geraldine Chua

    The architect’s studio is where works to be proud of are created, but for Max Pritchard, an Australian Institute of Architects President’s Medallist (SA Chapter), a studio can also be a real point of pride, especially if you designed and built it from scratch.

    The Adelaide-based practitioner first envisioned the Tree Top Studio over a decade ago, choosing to design it as a separate garden structure instead of undertaking a difficult addition to his heritage-listed, 25 year old elevated steel and glass house in Kingston Park.

    But, it was only with the unexpected expansion of his practice to include three new employees that he finally completed the two-storey circular structure in 2013.

    “Eventually I just thought it’s a lovely little structure and I’m going to have to finish it. And it will function as my own private home office,” Pritchard told Habitus Living.

    Measuring just four metres in diameter with 25sqm of floor space, the building is wrapped in golden plywood sheeting, with hardwood battens covering sheet joints and expressing the timber frame structure of vertical wall studs and radiating roof beams.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The dynamics of this structural expression is carried through to the interior, seen in the repeated detail of pine plywood and hardwood battens. Bookshelves and windows were positioned and detailed to follow the pattern developed from the roof and wall structure, and the floor mirrors the ceiling’s radiating baton motif.

    Caption: Scenic views of the tree tops and sea from the upper floor add to the peaceful but vibrant feel of the space. The lower level is used for storage.

    Most grabbing though is the fact that all construction, except for the electrical components, was undertaken by the architect, including the circular table that sits on the upper level, built with the timber offcuts.

    "I think many architects would benefit from making the time to get this sort of experience," Pritchard told  Dezeen.

    "I'm probably going too far to say designers should be able to build their own designs, but certainly if they could build small structures it would help their understanding of the construction process and materials."

     

    There is no artificial heating or cooling to the studio. Vertical banks of louvres provide ample cross ventilation during the summer, while the flat ‘lid’ roof offers shade from the elements. Heating during colder periods is gleaned off the winter sun, a sufficient enough measure for Adelaide’s relatively mild winters.

    Accessible by a timber decked bridge and curved timber decked path, the Tree Top Studio stands in total and deliberate contrast to Pritchard’s home in terms of its material palette and structure, its circular form creating a sense of enclosure not easily found in the glass house.

    Photography by Sam Noonan. Source: Dezeen

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