This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Gentle Brutalist Masterpiece In Brisbane

Architecture

Situated on a steep slope in the middle of an extreme bush fire zone, there is not much about this site that is easy. Yet somehow, Nielsen Jenkins have created an exceptional home here, one that is both sturdy and relaxing, elegant and intimate.

Designed as a wedge that has lodged itself into the mountain-side, the Mt Coot-Tha house wraps around a luscious green central courtyard, and provides both connection to and protection from the elements.

10th May, 2021

Photo – Tom Ross.

Photo – Tom Ross.

Photo – Tom Ross.

Photo – Tom Ross.

Photo – Tom Ross.

Photo – Tom Ross.

Photo – Tom Ross.

Photo – Tom Ross.

Photo – Tom Ross.

Photo – Tom Ross.

Photo – Tom Ross.

Photo – Tom Ross.

Photo – Tom Ross.

Photo – Tom Ross.

Sasha Gattermayr
Monday 10th May 2021

‘It has a real quality of quiet refuge that is immensely satisfying for us.’ – Lachlan Jenkins

As the proverb goes, one should never mix business with pleasure. But the Mt Coot-Tha House by Nielsen Jenkins was designed for principal architect Morgan Jenkins’ sister on a block of land next to his mother’s house, and everything turned out more than okay. In fact, the two firm directors believe the exact opposite of the aphorism is true.

‘People say that you should never work for family and friends, but we have found that some of our best work has been for both,’ says Morgan. ‘They offered us an enormous amount of trust, and we understood the mechanics of how they lived, and the way the house could influence the way they could live and how their kids could grow up.’

It’s an excellent point, and one that highlights the often underestimated presence of intimacy in residential architecture projects. Beyond this interpersonal affinity, however, another level of familiarity pervades the final project: one between human and environment. At every point, the design for the Mt Coot-Tha House takes the connection to landscape into account.

A winding driveway snakes up to the front of the house, where the main living room is perched atop a two-car garage. The frontage of these two rooms is the only part that faces the ‘street’ – the rest of the house is tucked into a wedge that scales the slope behind.

As the site inclines, the rooms unfurl themselves. Climbing up the internal staircase beside the garage visitors are deposited into the living room, which takes full advantage of views over the bushy terrain at the front of property. This floor is where all the activity of the main house happens.

A few concrete steps lead up from the living room to the open-plan dining room and kitchen, which remain raised but connected to the lounge zone. Through a well-hidden door the side, the main bedroom and ensuite is tucked into its own nook overlooking a lush private courtyard.

The kitchen and dining area abuts the grand centrepiece of the entire house: a large, lush  courtyard. Huge sliding glass windows open the eating zone and adjacent staircase to the courtyard, which is also overlooked by the two bedrooms on the top storey. The result is like an embrace, with the concrete arms of the house wrapping around the soft foliage at the centre.

‘The minimal and stripped material palette is really successful at taking your focus immediate into the surrounding forest and heightening the feeling of connection to the landscape,’ says co-director Lachlan Nielsen, highlighting the way the solid but raw material expression echoes the natural surrounds.

By the looks of things, this home will be delighting its occupants, and future generations for years to come!

See more projects by Nielsen Jenkins here.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Architecture

Bringing A Slice Of Coastal Mid-Century Architecture Back To Life

DFJ Architects revive an original 1950s home on the Tweed Coast, now affectionately known as ‘Neal + Shirley’s’.

Architecture

A Contemporary Beach House Designed By An Architect For Her Parents

The Bendalong Beach House by Madeleine Blanchfield provided such a serene escape for its owners, it became their full-time residence!

Architecture

A Timeless New Home In Ballarat, With Lake Views + Mid-Century Vibes

With American ‘Brady Bunch’ house vibes (!) this new home in Ballarat by Kennedy Nolan channels mid century design, with a sleek, contem...

This Week

Architecture

A Grecian-Inspired Update For A California Bungalow

Alcorn Middleton update a 1980s family home with arches, white-washed columns and a inspired by quintessential Santorini architecture.
36.05

Podcast

Dinosaur Designs Co-Founder Louise Olsen On Building An Iconic Australian Brand, On TDF Talks

Lucy Feagins talks to the legendary designer and artist about building an iconic Australian design brand.

Architecture

A Mid-Century Reimagining Of A Bells Beach Home

Bones House by Lachlan Shepherd Architects is a mid-century inspired makeover of a brick veneer home facing Bells Beach.

Architecture

A Minimalist, Semi-Prefabricated Beach House

Architect Hannah Tribe of Tribe Studio developed a prototype for a partially prefabricated kit home for her own family beach house in Bundee...

Interiors

A Dreamy Seaside Artist’s Studio On A 19th Century Farm

Watts Studio and Amiconi Architect collaborate on a new artist's studio on historic Spray Farm on the Bellarine Peninsula. It's a work of ar...

14 Brands Making Waves With The Wiggly Trend

From undulating limestone vases to wiggly steel coat-stands, here are 14 wavy furniture pieces and homewares we love!

Shopping

The New Ceramics Studio Built On Centuries Of Inherited Knowledge

The debut collection from new ceramics studio House Editions by Claudia Lau brings porcelain bowls, plates and vases in experimental glazes

Interiors

A Curvaceous + Calm Edwardian Home Renovation

Working within the exisiting footprint, CJH Studio transformed this Melbourne home with smart planning and minimalist interiors.

Interiors

The Timeless Update Of A 1950s Portsea Beach House

Pipkorn Kilpatrick improve the flow and functionality of this 1956 home originally designed by Robin Boyd, ensuring its legacy remains in ta...
Sally Tabart
  23 hours ago

News

A Lifetime Of Mim Design Projects In One Book!

‘Works’ is a tome celebrating 21 years of Miriam Fanning’s sophisticated interiors + architecture practice.
Sasha Aarons

Architecture

An Elwood Bungalow That Draws From Within

A innovative extension around a circular garden creates an inward focus to this California bungalow extension by Rob Kennon Architects.

Homes

A Cheerful Beachside Retreat

Virginia Morris' colourful 1980s Anglesea home, located just 100 steps from the beach!

11 Brilliant Lighting Designs That Will Light Up Your Life!

From delicate frosted tubes to sculptural glass chandeliers, these are the finalists in the Lighting Design category of The Design Files + L...

Creative People

The Trailblazing Couple Behind Brisbane's New Indigenous Art Centre

Amanda Hayman and Troy Casey are the entrepreneurial couple behind Brisbane's most exciting new art gallery and retail space!
2.37

Interiors

YSG Studio Brings 'Afternoon Delight' To This Dreamy Kitchen Design for Laminex

We take a closer look at YSG Studio's stunning new collaboration with Laminex!

Similar Stories

Architecture

Bringing A Slice Of Coastal Mid-Century Architecture Back To Life

DFJ Architects revive an original 1950s home on the Tweed Coast, now affectionately known as ‘Neal + Shirley’s’.

Architecture

A Contemporary Beach House Designed By An Architect For Her Parents

The Bendalong Beach House by Madeleine Blanchfield provided such a serene escape for its owners, it became their full-time residence!

Architecture

A Timeless New Home In Ballarat, With Lake Views + Mid-Century Vibes

With American ‘Brady Bunch’ house vibes (!) this new home in Ballarat by Kennedy Nolan channels mid century design, with a sleek, contem...

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.