Whipbird, a house in balance with nature

December 6, 2023
When Poliform and Space Atelier began a collaboration with Jayden Zernich, Zerni, the approach to a new house on the Sunshine Coast by award winning firm architects Minnow Studio, would take shape around soaring volumes, natural light, raw materials, fine details and timeless furniture, and create connection with the interior, the site’s natural landscape and views over the region's famous hinterland.

            Whipbird, a house in balance with nature

Whipbird could be anywhere in the world. Surrounded by a tropical forest with borrowed views over two protected council reserves, there are 180-degree views of the Pacific Ocean. On 1.2 hectares and less than a 15-minute drive from the cosmopolitan ambience of Noosa, the town of Doonan would have to be one of the best kept secrets on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. ‘There’s a certain stillness and serenity in being here. And because the adjacent land on either side can never be built on, the property feels considerably larger,’ says Jayden Zernich, whose company, Zerni, is behind its development.

Blackened timber and recycled bricks define the finely detailed Whipbird house designed by architects Jen Negline and Andrew Brown from Minnow Studio.

From the outset, Whipbird, named after a native bird to the area, was never going to be the traditional resort home, either in terms of its architecture or the manner in which it was ‘stitched’ together. Zernich’s first conversation with architects, Jen Negline and Andrew Brown from Minnow Studio, focused on not creating something you might find in the Hamptons. Instead, the brief called for the clarity of the mid-century architectural aesthetic and the timeless gems found in the hills of LA (think John Lautner's Sheets-Goldstein Residence). However, rather than off-form concrete, the Whipbird house is clad with black-stained timber from New Zealand that stands up to the Queensland humidity. The recycled bricks further anchor the house to this escarpment.

‘The brief called for a pragmatic, clever and honest response to the desire to live a peaceful life while enjoying the virtues of a very beautiful setting – a house that turns to the sun yet protects from it, looks outwards to the views yet cocoons you inside,’ explains Negline, pointing out the quiet and subtle details, such as the impressive ocean blue travertine for the quiet, pared-back kitchen.  

“The house was conceived to attract an international market, and those who understand the much larger design picture, whether it’s architecture, furniture, art or fashion.”

Jayden ZernichZerni

The bedroom that creates a space for total relexation, featuring the Rever bed, Park One bench, Onda coffee table, and the Cannele carpet.

Rather than designing for a specific client, Whipbird was conceived for those looking for the ultimate getaway. Over three levels, the T-shaped floor plan includes seven-metre-high voids, separate wings for parents, children and guests, and three living areas. There are the main living areas, complete with kitchen and dining area, and a second living area adjacent to the three children’s bedrooms. There’s also a separate guest suite that ingeniously connects to the tennis court and car parking area, with timber blade walls opening to create a subtle connection between the indoors and out. It’s a house for entertaining on a truly grand scale, and a complete oasis away from Noosa’s bustling Hastings Street. ‘The house was conceived to attract an international market, and those who understand the much larger design picture,’ continues Zernich. ‘Whether it’s architecture, furniture, art or fashion.’

For Zernich and his team, furniture and art were always going to be part of the concept. Zerni collaborated with Space Atelier and Poliform, a team dedicated to curating timeless furniture collections, and with art consultant Jan Manton, who runs a leading contemporary gallery in Brisbane. Space Atelier and Poliform worked closely with Zerni and Minnow Studio for the last eight months. ‘It was a collaborative approach, understanding the importance of the architecture and all the finishes and fixtures. But we also appreciated Jayden’s vision. There was a sense of confidence and clarity from the start,’ enthuses David Hartikainen, Head of Interiors and Business Development Asia Pacific for Space. For Hartikainen and his team, which included input from stylists and landscape architects, The Conlon Group, it was paramount that the furniture, objects and art appeared recessive to the architecture and its majestic surrounds.

“It was a collaborative approach, understanding the importance of the architecture and all the finishes and fixtures. But we also appreciated Jayden’s vision. There was a sense of confidence and clarity from the start.”

David HartikainenHead of Interiors and Business Development Asia Pacific, Space

Natural materials and generous openings to views, light and air give the Whipbird house its strong connection to nature. Featuring our Koishi coffee tables.

The latest project by the Space Atelier team and Poliform, Whipbird demonstrates the importance of understanding a client’s needs and tailoring the design response. Whether the client needs help layering and furnishing an interior, or expertise on a whole furniture collection to suit a pared back and minimal aesthetic, as was the case with Whipbird, our team has experience responding to the nuances of each brief, ensuring every outcome is as unique as the client and their home. 

With Whipbird, the main living area, which features floor-to-ceiling glass on three sides, is devoid of paintings, allowing the views to be the main ‘actor,’ so every decision was in response to both the architecture and the feeling Zernich wanted to create throughout the interior. In contrast, in the bedrooms, the earthy tonal colours in the paintings by Natalie Lavelle are offset by the soft hues of leather and wood, as well as the textures and colours in other areas of the house. ‘With each lounge or chair, we were conscious that the sight lines were clear to the views,’ says Hartikainen. ‘Although we didn’t have a clear image of who the eventual buyer of Whipbird would be, it will certainly be an architecture and design aficionado, someone like Jayden who has a strong and clear vision of what they are looking for, and who is not prepared to compromise,’ adds Hartikainen.

Photography © Timothy Kaye and CREATIVE MEDIA HOUSE - CMH