UK architect Sarah Waller's career was about designing homes for others, but she says, moving to Australia “gave her the opportunity to design and build something unique for herself and her family.”
With her extensive design background and expertise as a licensed builder, Waller embraced the creative freedom to create a home inspired by the simplicity and sophistication of mid-century modern architecture.
By ‘modern’ and ‘simple’, Waller also drew on the designs of architects from the 1940s and 50s, with a look and feel that also traces its lineage to the ideas of various German architects from the 1920s and their "Glasarchitektur", who by way of circuitous logic, inspired the likes of US architects Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson.
"I’ve always wanted to live in a glass house since I was an architectural student in the UK," says Waller.
The influence of both Johnson and van der Rohe can be seen in her Queensland house that manages to pair both beautiful form and useful and resort-like function, while at the same time not subsuming the gorgeous Noosa countryside, which all add to the Miami modernist feel of the home.
But it wasn't just the influence of other designers - it was also about the influence of the stunning Noosa hinterland surroudings.
"It was about balancing inside and outside," says Waller, who added that "it was all about the setting."
"It's all about the setting," she says.
"Less is more," she notes, adding that, "Its about having a pared-back, simple look."
In terms of construction, the home is basically a glass 'skirt' or 'valance' wrapped around a steel and timber frame, making it not only simple, but also strong and longlasting.
It's simplicity is typified by the use of simple colour palletes, and by structural features like only having two horizontal planes.
As a self-described 'workaholic', Waller says the only times she gets to relax is when she is on holidays, hence the idea to design a home that has a resort feel, which perhaps was made a bit easier by the fact it was set in Noosa, just north of Brisbane and a well-known holdiay spot for bothe Australains and overseas visitors.
However, designing and building what essentially evolved into both a resort and a home had its challenges and needs, and as if to underline the level of time and attention to detail this aesthetically ‘simple’ home needed, Waller notes that, she was “Intrinsically involved in every step of the process from the design and build, through to the final styling and decorative touches.”
"To manage the entire process and bring it all together is incredibly satisfying and now we're living and experiencing the home, you get a true appreciation that beyond its aesthetic qualities it has a wonderful feel.”
“Sometimes I have to pinch myself and ask if it's ours," she says.
"Convincing my husband to live in a transparent glass home also took a bit of convincing," says Waller.
And if there is a downside of living in such a stunning surrounding in a stunning glass-wrapped building notes Waller, it's having to keep all that glass clean.
Although looking at both the house and its location, many would agree that is a small price to pay.
In Sarah Waller’s own words:
What was the brief?
The brief was to design a family home that can also function as showcase for my architectural business. My inspiration was the post war housing Architecture: Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House and the Philip Johnson Glasshouse.
How is the project unique?
The design focussed on the use of glass and the transparency of the home which enabled a seamless integration into the landscape.
What building methods were used?
The build incorporated a slab on ground, steel frame, flat metal roof and glass enclosure.
What are the sustainability features?
Water tanks, effluent disposal systems and the orientation of the house were all designed and incorporated to maximise their potential.
What were the key challenges?
I had a unique role in this project that presented its own set of challenges, I was the client, the Architect and the builder.
A restrained palette and clean lines define the minimalist kitchen which pairs functionality with striking sculptural form. Generous island benches in fine matt black laminate and marble-look porcelain, punctuate the open plan layout and reflect the linear monochrome feel throughout.
The inner workings of the kitchen are cleverly contained within a deceptively cavernous black box clad in nanotech FENIX, where open shelves, additional bench space and a butler's sink are convenient yet out of sight.
Walls of glass spanning the length of the home, blur the distinction between indoor and outdoor spaces and allow an abundance of natural light to stream through, imbuing warmth and unimpeded views of the verdant surrounds.
A mix of concealed task lights and custom designed feature pendants form the layered lighting scheme which creates ambience at night with a flick of a switch. Inside architectural features are beautifully illuminated, while outside soaring coconut palm trees and architectural frangipanis are up-lit amongst the landscape.
Enveloped almost entirely in glass, the expansive outlook provides an ever-changing view from the master bedroom. "I love that you have all the comforts of indoors, yet you really feel part of the landscape. We wake up with the sun and experience the subtle changes in weather throughout the day."
Indulgent bathing options from the award winning monochrome master bathroom extend to the outside, where a deep free-standing bath secluded by greenery adds to the home’s relaxed holiday feel.
A tropical feel pervades the lush landscaping which envelops the house and steps down the tiered block to create a resort-like feel poolside. Simple mass tropical planting with uplit feature trees are the basis of landscape design.
Pool and Cabana
Taking style cues from the Modernist Palm Springs pools popular during the '50s, a similar look is evoked with a streamlined resort style linear pool, offset with a chic cabana furnished with casual pieces ideal for relaxing and soaking up the sweeping views.
The home's minimalist appeal is accentuated with a timeless black and white palette inside and out, with texture introduced with plants, the warmth of timber and tactile surfaces such as the white terrazzo floors which flow throughout.