The Crystal Inspirations building has a bright energy, it’s hard to define but is definitely highlighted by the design of the space – raking ceilings are propped up by slender timber trusses, and light streams in from elevated windows. The client’s brief was for a jewellery gallery full of natural light and an accessible lush garden. Older-style shop fronts populate the Mt. Tambourine street and the client also wanted her shop to set itself apart by ‘glowing’ in the evening, emitting light like a lantern. Her architect, Jim Gall, responded with high gable glass windows, and chose Australian timbers to create warmth and an element of sustainability. The simple structure has a few tricks and some well detailed exposed connections.
The hardwood posts are seasoned Ironbark. Ironbark is naturally a durability class 1 timber, which means it can withstand above-ground external conditions for over 50 years without treatment. This was carefully considered, as some posts were part of the exterior walls, and the high durability class enabled the posts to be left without cladding protection. The timber is the final finish.
Internal trusses are made from treated hoop pine which is the machine graded pine found in common wall framing (MGP pine). Factory stamps were sanded away, and the timber was coated with a layer of stain and polish.
The timber ‘language’ of the structure continues into the display cabinet skeletons, which were designed by the architect as well. Recycled timber was sourced for these, and includes a mix of Mackay Cedar, White Beech, and 50mmx50mm Queensland Maple struts.
The structure is a simple frame work of timber posts and trusses at 1800 mm centres, while block walls were used for the majority of the required bracing. Twin struts running perpendicular along the bottom of the trusses restrain the bottom chord under compression while the top chords are restrained by the ceiling structure.
Exposed galvanised nail plates, trip L grips and bolts connect the timber members and demonstrate Jim’s design intent: make the structural materials provide both the strength and architectural finish- showcase the ‘bare bones’ of the structure.
A cleat and bolt base connection for a post. The cleat is welded off an equal angle trimming the mini block wall.
Thanks to the simple design and architectural principles, the structure of the Crystal Inspirations Gallery still makes a stunning impression at twelve years old.
Architect: Jim Gall
Engineer: Bligh Tanner
Photography by Betsy Huang, Duncan Ward, and Amy Cook