At One with Nature – Whipbird by Minnow Studios and ZERNI

Words by Aimee O’Keefe
Architecture by Minnow Studios
Photography by Timothy Kaye
Interior Design by Minnow Studios
Development by ZERNI
Interior Design by ZERNI
Styling and Furniture by Space Furniture
Landscape Design by Conlon Group
Flooring by Made by Storey
Stone by Artedomus

Dramatically simple and highly evocative, Whipbird simultaneously immerses its inhabitants in its breathtaking location while providing a calm and welcoming refuge – a beautiful reminder of the power of a tangible connection between architecture and nature. Perched on the crest of a ridgeline in the Noosa Hinterland, Whipbird is a poetic example of responsive design that facilitates engagement with the environment.

Set in the heart of the Sunshine Coast hinterland in a charming town called Doonan, the site quickly enchanted the Minnow Studio and ZERNI team with its the natural beauty, peace, stunning outlook and the soft hums of the whipbirds. Both designer and developer immediately experienced a similar desire for the design direction – to lean on the panoramic hinterland and coastal views, connecting inhabitants to the surrounding rugged beauty while still creating a calm, relaxing refuge from the sprawling hinterland. The house is, thus, a shelter – a place to withdraw from the busy city and embrace the quiet hinterland lifestyle.

The house is, thus, a shelter – a place to withdraw from the busy city and embrace the quiet hinterland lifestyle.

The five-bedroom home is broken down into two distinct wings and split across two levels, with landscaped terraces leading out to a pool, a tennis court, a bathing court, a car court and courtyard gardens. The ground floor is accessed through a double-height volume that focuses the gaze on the view beyond. This wing houses the day rooms, main bedroom suite and home office that both boast abundant sunlight and views to the north. The second wing is orientated towards the forest and houses additional bedrooms, bathrooms, a guest suite and a games room.

The spatial dimensions of the home are both fluid and unique – a simple way to emphasise the incredible views the site possesses. Upon entry, the main view is concealed to curate a journey towards the view, while additional views are scattered throughout the home yet in different measures. Outlooks from the bedroom wing that face towards the forest are hermetic, while the living wing is vaster, with views framed between the architectural planes and the water of the pool, silhouetted towards the horizon. Glass is aplenty – allowing a sense of connection yet retreat from the landscape beyond. Moreover, each opening within the house has been carefully designed to capture a specific view in a specific way – walls are strategically placed to compress and expand the outlooks, generating multiple scenes.

The simple and timeless design of Whipbird is elevated by the use of raw, natural and tactile materials and a muted and pure palette.

The simple and timeless design of Whipbird is elevated by the use of raw, natural and tactile materials and a muted and pure palette. Tonal grey brick, blackened timber shiplap, light grey granite and large black-framed windows that bleed into the black shiplap cladding form the cohesive exterior façade of the home. Materials are tactile and textural to further integrate the house with the landscape in a subtle way – grey-washed timbers and natural stone complement the granite, brick and black feature throughout. Furnishings are restrained, minimalist and highly curated, imbuing the home with an understated and effortless style that allows the views to remain the main feature. This sense of calm is complemented by natural light and shadow with open skylights adding a sense of grandeur throughout, resulting in a harmonious and refined interior that is laid-back yet sophisticated.

A tangible and powerful connection between the indoors and outdoors throughout the home develops as a design feature, given the home’s stunning natural surroundings. Landscape architects Conlon Group extended the breathtaking locale within the boundaries of the home to create additional space for inhabitants to live in and relax. Conlon Group intensifies this connection with the surrounding environment, using local native plant species and sourced materials. The garden thus both reinforces the architecture of the home while preserving and enhancing the site’s natural character.

The effect is an authentic, enduring and evocative home that elevates the experience of rural living through refined and sophisticated finishes. Providing spaces for endless relaxation and contemplation, ZERNI and Minnow Studios create a much-needed refuge in a world overwhelmed with constant activity. By looking to its context in both materiality and form, Whipbird envelops itself within its surroundings, a seamless merging between the interior and exterior – one with the elements and its inhabitants – as it should be.