Set within the rolling green hills and crystal clear water of the Upper Brookfield creeks of Queensland, Australia, the Davenport Wilson house by Shane Thompson Architects is at one with its rural surroundings. Inspired by the site's 19th century use as a dairy farm, the architects designed the building to be a modern family home, incorporating key elements of the local vernacular, such as the single-skin timber structure and a variety of large and small openings which are typically used to accommodate various farming needs.
The house is anchored to the site by a series of masonry terraces carved into the sloping ground. They form the structure's base and define its different ground levels. On top of them is placed the structure's main long timber volume. On the site's north west end, the house sits just at one storey high, but its linear form gently rises up to the south east reaching three storeys and pivots to frame a long view of the surrounding nature. Placed at that point is the master bedroom and a large two-storey-tall window that celebrates the structure's highest point.
The house's main rooms are arranged along the length of the volume. The generous and open public areas occupy the more central spaces, while the more private rooms - such as the children's bedrooms - are tucked away on the north west end of the house. The building is orientated so as to maximise solar gain and cross ventilation, while taking advantage of the spectacular views from each room. The heart of the house provides the family with the space to gather, engage and spend quality time with one another.
Shane Thompson's architecture practice adopts a research-based approach, digging into each project's program, site and cultural conditions, while keeping in mind the occupants' needs. This is visible in the Davenport Wilson house as the clients and the beautiful site were the driving inspirations behind the design.
Before commissioning this home, the clients lived in a 1940s farmhouse property for many years and had a passion for the area's landscape and a deep understanding of its smells, sights, light and rhythm. 'When it came to designing the project, they had a very clear idea of the lifestyle they wanted for living in the subtropics,' explains Shane Thompson. 'They wanted a space where there is at times an imperceptible definition between inside and outside, larger sheltering spaces full of soft light, robust and tactile natural materials and a presence, which is more a part of the landscape than apart from the landscape.'