Noosa House

By John Burgess

Noosa, Qld

By: John Burgess Architects

Noosa House David Taylor Photographer

How does the project respond to its context, contribute to the public domain for example street or neighbourhood?

Closed to the west and open to the east the building responds to the diversity of context from street to dune.

To the west a blade of masonry and hardwood clearly defines the street boundary and adds mystery to the dwelling behind. Privacy is enhanced by the layering of timber screens and masonry brise soleil over deeply recessed glazing.

To the east, the house opens up to the sea and sun, the central courtyard embracing the elements. The external bold forms and cascading planar terraces complement by contrast the curvaceous soft dune landscape

The ‘H’ formed mass of Noosa House provides courtyards to experience and shelter from the variations of wind and sun. These spaces of differing scale and mood frame expansive vistas or connect with intimate scenes of tropical landscape.

Raw plastered surfaces internally and soft rendered finishes externally are continuous from inside to out. Dense tropical planting contrasts against the sculptured rectilinear forms and extensive planes of timber screening.

The sculpted form creates a calm sanctuary from the at times harsh environment. This generous yet serene beachside home provides a discrete and confident public expression.

What problems did you have to solve?

The panoramic ocean view is to the east of the property and neighbouring residences are located close to both the north and southern boundaries. Generous north solar access and ventilation was required and privacy and shading to the expansive west elevation were also a priority.

The client desired a substantial masonry structure and the site is on a steep coastal dune therefore a significant piered foundation was required. The desire was for a bold, simple clean expression but the structural and service requirements were complex.

This was a large scale residential build in an exposed location and the need for quality and longevity informed the project and budget. 

What was the contribution of others, including engineers, landscape architects, artists, builders and other specialists to the outcome?

The builder and all consultants from structural, electrical to hydraulic and mechanical were able to grasp the intrinsic desire for simplicity and elegance whether it be the curved concrete staircase cast integrally with the ceiling or the integration of trimless light fittings designed by the architect. The landscape consultants were able to provide and established landscape that transitioned from street frontage to dune.

How would you describe the value of design in relation to the cost of the project?

The client required a private and secure, bold yet comfortable beachside home for family and guests. Cost consultants were employed throughout to ensure financial effectiveness of decisions made and provide on going feedback for the client. The completed residence provides a work that celebrates the journey from public to private, from street to dune, providing a serene setting to enjoy the dramatic site and the inherent joys of beachside living.


What are some important sustainability aspects of the project?

The layering and format of the plans and elevations are intrinsic to the passive sustainability of the project. Courtyards are open to the sky. The central courtyard features a large swimming pool and others are densely landscaped with tropical plantings, all provide a cooling microclimate to adjacent spaces. Thermal mass is provided by exposed concrete floors and cavity core filled concrete block walls. The flat roof is heavily insulated and cross ventilation is employed throughout. Natural light is tempered and modified throughout. Solar access provides warmth in winter. A series of 3.2m high Tallow wood sliding and bi-fold screens are featured on the western elevation shading the deeply recessed doors and windows behind. Timber screens are utilised on the upper level of the central courtyard to screen windows. Overhanging balconies and operable external blinds are also utilized to moderate solar access when required. A massive rainwater tank, lies beneath the garage providing harvested water to be utilised inside and outside the dwelling.

What do you consider to be the benefits of the project for the client, users and the community?

The completed residence provides a work that celebrates the journey from public to private, from street to dune, providing a serene setting to enjoy the dramatic site and the inherent joys of beachside living.

The permanence and clarity of Noosa House differentiates it from the Queensland vernacular and may inform the broader community of an alternative response to place.