Midway House by Habiter Studio

The lure of Tasmania’s rugged beauty has retained a strong hold on designers, artists, craftspeople and holidaymakers alike. The island’s innate connection to the earth and its elements has captured hearts, frequently informing design decisions and occasionally calling its admirers to settle into its majestic landscape and make a home amongst its rolling hills, crashing waves and lush canopies. With a desire to be amongst Tasmania’s beautiful chaos, residential designer and founder of the newly formed home design studio Habiter Studio, Daniel Colthorpe, made the tree change to Hobart six years ago. His latest project reflects his deep connection to his Tassie home and pays homage to his favourite building material- timber.

After spending several years working on high-end residential projects with an architecture studio based in Newcastle, NSW, Colthorpe made a move to Tasmania in 2016. Working with an architectural studio out of New Zealand, he also started working on private residences local to Tasmania. Here, Colthorpe honed his craft and developed his own architectural values, establishing Habiter Studio in 2022. Taking a human-centred approach, Habiter Studio’s designs are carefully considered and uniquely inspired by the site and the Australian landscape.

Timber creates an oasis

Taking these concepts with him into his latest project, Midway House is Colthorpe’s tribute to the natural beauty that first drew him to the island state. A build especially close to his heart, the residential project is Colthorpe’s own home.

From floor to ceiling, Tasmanian timber forms a cocoon like oasis from the elements that are familiar to the isthmus community of Midway Point. Custom Tasmanian Oak joinery can be found throughout the home. Veneers line the walls, reflecting the verticality found in the adjacent white VJ walls, and solid floorboards harmoniously flow from room to room underfoot.

Warm and cozy

Selecting a wide range of Tasmanian Oak applications, Colthorpe explains that it was not only a great excuse for him to experiment and play with a material he was so fond of but also helped achieve the aesthetic he was aiming for.

“Timber has always been an obsession, so when my wife and I were ready to create our family home, we had a strong desire to include it as a key element to the design. Using varying applications of Tasmanian Oak was a great exercise to play with the material and see how it would perform and where it could be incorporated to bring warmth and reflect the natural light,” says Colthorpe.

With little protection from the winds sweeping in from the Coal River Valley, Colthorpe further explains why timber served as the perfect building material for his home.

“The design was quite intuitive to the location, we wanted to create a natural refuge to achieve a sense of warmth and a sense of home. We were drawn to biophilic design principles and wanted an ever-present moment of timber. Whether you’re looking up at the ceiling, down at the floorboards, in the bathroom or the kitchen, you’ll find timber,” says Colthorpe.

A sacred space

With extensive use of varying timber products for the project, Colthorpe says the availability of the materials was seamless.

“I sourced most of the timber from McKay’s and had no problems with its availability. It was an extremely easy and predictable material to use and has settled right in beautifully. The whole process of creating Midway House has been a great learning tool and has given me a great sense of respect toward Tas Oak,” says Colthorpe.

“I’ve always been drawn to the emotional qualities timber evokes, but Tasmanian Oak was especially perfect as a natural choice of species for Midway House. Locally sourced materials like Tassie Oak have a sacred quality to them, they bring a direct connection to place. I couldn’t think of a better material to have in your home.”