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Queenscliff Residence

This residence is situated on the top of the cliff overlooking the ocean at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay. It was designed by multi-award winning John Wardle Architects, the building is truly a work of art. The exterior comprises a wide pallet of materials, including folded zinc cladding, shiplapped spotted gum, timber battening and timber-grain off form concrete. Full height glazed windows have been used in many areas to maximise views and natural light, these can be fully opened to the environment bringing the outside in.

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© Trevor Mein

Externally the house explores the nature, colour and detailing of Spotted Gum hardwood. Solid cladding and decking is combined with delicate layers of screens and shutters that passively shade glazing and provide privacy. The ‘timber hedge’ that greets the visitor on arrival to the house is at once dense and permeable, carefully crafted, and softly weathering. The timber has a penetrating oil finish that will allow it to weather gracefully over time in response to its environment, requiring minimal maintenance.

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© Trevor Mein

Inside has featured polished timber floors, blackbutt veneer timber joinery combined with imported hand selected Calcutta marble. The feature of the staircase is the Rattan reed screen imported from Malaysia and painstakingly hand woven through vertical stainless steel supports. Hydronic heating, lighting control systems, security and remote blinds add a high tech nature to control the building to the clients requirements.

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© Trevor Mein

The interior, by contrast, is predominantly coloured by a lighter hardwood, blackbutt and finished to a high level. The material is used throughout the interior, from the solid strip flooring and stair to the veneer that covers much of the joinery, including the study. Here, the material is wrapped overhead as a ceiling to provide the study with a sense of enclosure within the open plan of the first floor.

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© Trevor Mein

“The complementary layering of materials, from the hardwood interior floors to the woven wicker wall, through to the exterior cladding, screens and shutters that can be seen through the windows makes this house a winning design,” – said the jury intergrain.

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© Trevor Mein

John Wardle Architects:

This house acts as an optical instrument, a series of devices that frame views beyond the abutting foreshore to the south toward the Heads of Port Phillip Bay. The most significant promenade through the site, and house itself, takes you from the street along a gently stepped path to the entry stair which then elevates you sufficiently to appreciate the view as you arrive at the uppermost level. The careful choreography of this sequence is amplified by materiality and adjacencies. Fine timber detailing alongside the path, woven wicker within the stair and Calacatta marble in the kitchen. The experience on entry is private and cocooned from the exterior. Once above, the views expand and are focussed on the horizon of the ocean to the south.

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© Trevor Mein

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© Trevor Mein

A challenge for Victorian coastal houses is to reconcile the southern views with northern solar orientation. In this instance, a courtyard has been introduced to gain northern aspect to the living spaces and to capture the afternoon sun within an environment shielded from the strong southerlies. The principal bedroom is oriented south stealing ocean views through the main living pavilion and across the courtyard.

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© Trevor Mein

The house is carefully zoned to allow for privacy between parents and adult children on a narrow site. The main living and dining space is where family and friends come together. In this way, the house is designed for a busy family life, allowing for both privacy and communal gathering.

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© Trevor Mein

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© Trevor Mein

The direct visual connection between the interior and the sea encourages the contemplation of ships crossing the Heads en route to distant ports, a relaxing retreat from work.

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© Trevor Mein

Project Data:

Project name: Queenscliff Residence
Location: Queenscliff, Victoria, Australia

  • Type By Characteristic: Contemporary House
  • Type By Site: Ocean House
  • Type By Size: Large House – (more than 650 sqm)
  • Type By Materials: Wooden House

Project Area: 665 sqm
Project Year: 2010
Completion Year: 2010


  • 2012 – Australian Interior Design Awards – Shortlist Residential Design
  • 2012 – Interior Design Excellence Awards (IDEA Awards) – Shortlist – Single Residential
  • 2011 – Australian Timber design Awards – Victoria Entries 2011
  • 2011 – Intergrain Timber Vision Award Winners – Best Residential Interior
  • 2011 – Association of Victoria Regional Building Awards – South West Region – Custom Home over $700,000 at the Master Builders

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Tony and Josie Hodges
Architects: John Wardle Architects – 2nd Floor, 25 Rokeby Street, Collingwood Victoria, Australia 3066
Interior Designer: John Wardle Architects
Text Description: © Courtesy of John Wardle Architects, lyonsconstruction, timberawards
Images: © Trevor Mein

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Queenscliff Residence / John Wardle Architects
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