When artist David Vivian’s rainforest retreat was destroyed by fire, Homefab came on board to create ‘The Perch’ – an innovative new home that would rise from the ashes and go on to take top honours for ‘best use of steel framing’ in Queensland’s Master Builders Housing and Construction Awards.

David was due to move into a single bedroom timber house at Miallo, north of Mossman, in late 2014, when he received the devastating news that flames had engulfed the property.

The architect – PD Designs – Peter D’All’Alba, in conjunction with the Homefab Sales team and David, all together found their inspiration from nature to design a unique home that would deliver small-space living on a grand scale while flowing with its breathtaking environment.

Homefab’s Peta-Maree Broadley says the construction team on the Perch Project – Alan Jenkins Builders, surpassed expectations with its dedication to detail and can-do attitude in bringing the contemporary, minimalist design to life as a shining example of an elegant dwelling that exists in harmony with its tropical environment.

“The Perch is a home that flows and changes with the seasons, where boundaries are blurred – inside becomes outside, a space of ease and tranquillity”.

The Homefab team determined steel framing would be the most efficient way to accommodate the steep, dense rainforest location, with its associated high levels of moisture and threat of termites, while also meeting the project’s limited insurance budget.

“The integral lightweight strength and low-maintenance properties of steel provide durability in a very harsh environment, Innovation is everything”.

Many state-of-the-art techniques and design principles make this small-space home a real showstopper.

“From the esky-like RMAX Thermawall, to the cross-flow banks of tinted louvres, all features of this home combine to provide an elegant solution in a demanding situation”.

“The result is a fresh, contemporary environment in which to live, and a beautiful home that flows and connects with the surrounding rainforest.” 

With an under-roof area of just 140sq m and living area of approximately 86sq m, nearly half of the building was suspended over the rainforest floor below.

Substantial engineering and attention to structural integrity was paramount during the design and construction phase, with innovative techniques employed to deliver the best possible outcome.

Lightweight modular components and construction facilitated easier access and delivery and efficient, timely construction.

Most importantly, the light steel trusses and wall frames maximised liveable areas by cantilevering the building into the canopy on 530 UB bearers.

The modest size of the dwelling allowed for extra attention to detail in its finish, with quality fixtures and bespoke fittings throughout providing a true sense of luxury, despite the restricted budget.

David has now been living in his dream home for one year and says the experience of re-building the studio retreat from such fiery beginnings has inspired his creative pursuits.

“There were times early on when I didn’t think it could be done, but with the perseverance and some wonderful guiding help from the team at Homefab, Alan Jenkins Builders and PD Designs, The Perch came into being,” David says.

“Turning that blackened shell into a dream home has changed my life completely.”

Peta-Maree says the company was thrilled to be named winners at Master Builders’ Far North Queensland recent gala ceremony in Cairns, particularly given 2017 was the first year for the “Best Use of Steel Frame Housing” category was included in the building and construction section of the prestigious awards.

The category “Best Use of Steel Frame Housing” award was sponsored by Bluescope Truecore and Colourbond and presented by Mr Bevan Ross – Qld State Manager – Building Markets