Situated within the ‘Board-Walk’ housing estate at the base of Mt Coolum, the immediate context is typical of modern coastal suburban development, a general brush of project homes with cursory nods to a beach ‘aesthetic’ via timber battens and whitewashed walls. Within the greater context sits the majestic land form of Mt Coolum which inspired much of the buildings form and materiality.

Project Name: Mass & Void
Studio Name: Sparks Architects
Completion Date: 2015
Location: Mount Coolum, Australia
Photography: Andrew Manson and Cathy Schusler

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©Andrew Manson and Cathy Schusler

The relatively large site allowed for an exploration of a single storey courtyard typology. Such an approach assists with passive environmental design as well as providing privacy from neighbouring two storey homes into an external centrally planned courtyard. Originally a more conventional planning configuration of orthogonal pavilions and central courtyard was explored, yet not pursued due to resultant compression of the courtyard space.

©Andrew Manson and Cathy Schusler

However, the central courtyard space was retained into the current planning scheme as a focus for social and playful program. The solution was to allow the geometry of the sites boundaries to inform the buildings volumes and massing arrangements.

©Andrew Manson and Cathy Schusler

The three building elements aligning the courtyard hug the set back boundaries whilst maximising the ‘internal’ outdoor space. This approach also allows for a hierarchy of rooms to reflect the tapering of spaces that flank the courtyard.

©Andrew Manson and Cathy Schusler

The extrusion of this plan into a formal language allowed for a playful reflection on the mass and materiality of rock face and vegetation of Mt Coolum. The buildings outer ‘face’ is Colorbond Surfmist. Where we carve into the building mass to articulate the courtyard and joinery ‘box-outs’ the inner surface is manifested through the use of shiplap spotted gum cladding. A simple move but one which provides for an interesting and shifting material play and a subtle echo of the mountain geology beyond.

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A modest budget is maximised through a focus on capturing light, breeze & spatial quality and intrigue through form and the rhythmical play of internal and external space.


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