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Trunk House

Trunk House is a small wooden cabin designed by Paul Morgan an architect, on a hill facing dense forest located in Victoria’s Central Highlands, Australia. Morgan designed the trunk house is such a way that you feel the affect of bringing the forest inside.

Trunk-House-By-Paul-Morgan-Architects-01-759x488 Trunk House / Paul Morgan Architects

© Peter Bennetts

The project is a small cabin in Victoria’s Central Highlands. The brief for this project was to provide a two stage residential project including a cabin and a house, the first stage of which is shown here.

Trunk-House-By-Paul-Morgan-Architects-03-759x488 Trunk House / Paul Morgan Architects

© Peter Bennetts

The site contains a beautiful forest of extant Stringybark woodland. Our original interest was in the bleached bones of sheep and kangaroo skeletons found in forests and farms, and in the thickening of these joints, needed to carry additional loads. This interest transitioned into harnessing the natural load-bearing capacity of timber found in the region by utilizing bifurcations found in tree forks.

Trunk-House-By-Paul-Morgan-Architects-06-759x488 Trunk House / Paul Morgan Architects

© Peter Bennetts

Trunk-House-By-Paul-Morgan-Architects-07-759x487 Trunk House / Paul Morgan Architects

© Peter Bennetts

The advantage of these bifurcated joints – usually discarded in commercial tree logging – is their great inherent strength. The bifurcations were sourced from forest floors and farmland, and due to their age, were pre-seasoned. They were joined to straight columns with internal metal plates by a sculptor. So this ground fuel became building material. An internal column with radiating beams completed the structure, the complete triangulated system attaining great inherent strength.

Trunk-House-By-Paul-Morgan-Architects-05-857x1200 Trunk House / Paul Morgan Architects

© Peter Bennetts

Stringybark trees were removed from the site to make way for the new house. A mobile milling machine was delivered to site, and Stringybark lining boards were milled, cured on site, and then fixed internally. This resulted in a minimal carbon footprint for the sourcing and installing of the lining boards.

Trunk-House-By-Paul-Morgan-Architects-04 Trunk House / Paul Morgan Architects

© Peter Bennetts

The design sought to achieve an almost transparent relationship with the surrounding forest, achieved through an eco-morphological transformation of ground fuel into structure.

Trunk-House-By-Paul-Morgan-Architects-08-759x487 Trunk House / Paul Morgan Architects

© Peter Bennetts

Project Data:

Project name: Trunk House
Location: Central Highlands, Victoria, Australia
Coordinates: n/a

  • Type By Characteristic: Cabin / Hut / Cottage, Holiday House,
  • Type By Site: Forest House, Hill House
  • Type By Size: Small House – (51 sqm – 200 sqm)
  • Type By Materials: Wooden House

Project Area: 85 sqm
Project Year: 2011
Completion Year: 2011


  • 2011 – WAN Awards – Category: House of the year – Longlist

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Private
Architects: Paul Morgan Architects – Level 10, 221 Queen Street Melbourne Victoria Australia 3000
Project Team: Paul Morgan, Andrej Vodstrcil, Jennifer Wood, Monica Shanley, Ying-lan Dann, William Golding, Melissa Thong, Jo Scicluna
Engineer: Peter Felicetti
Bifurcations: Mike Conole
Builder: Karsten Poulsen
Landscape architect: Cath Stutterheim, SAALA
Acoustic consultant: Neil McLachlan
Text Description: © Courtesy of Paul Morgan Architects
Images: © Peter Bennetts

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Trunk House / Paul Morgan Architects
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