Situated on the same site as Wilson’s Cottage, this secluded location called for an ecologically sensitive design, respecting the island’s remote and serene environment.

Designed by JDA Co., The House, is a true passion project of owners Steve and Jane Wilson and borne from years of planning and an ambition to create “the greatest reef house in the world”.


The House’s environmentally sensitive location called for serious ingenuity when it came to the build. We worked closely with the builder to achieve a balance between touching the earth lightly with minimal disturbance, and building a robust place that’s built to last, and built for use.


The building’s robust, board-formed concrete exterior is highly functional as it is aesthetical.  The striking and rugged landscape lends itself to cyclonic winds and harsh weather conditions. As a result, The House is designed and built to shelter and protect when needed. Perforated copper blades lining the exterior are visually beautiful and act as debris shields that can withstand cyclonic winds intrinsic to this reef.


The House is deeply inspired by the rich geology and marine life of its incredible location on Lizard Island. The architectural plan is reminiscent of the stingrays that swim mere metres away. Narrow slit windows to the south and west act as ‘gills’ and are perfectly placed to direct prevailing breezes and allow The House to breathe on hot days.


A central, curved stairwell acts as the heart of The House and provides a seamless connection between levels. Gaze skywards as you climb the stairs and an Oculus for tracking the patterns of the sun and the moon. A roof terrace and spa cap off The House and offer 360 degree views of the landscape. Internally, all three bedrooms have been individually designed to frame vistas to nearby and distant places of significance. The top-floor bedroom frames views of Cooks Look, while bedrooms on the ground level look towards Hibiscus and Attenborough Beach respectively.


Rosewood timber and copper materials bring warmth to The House and serve as a canvas for the vibrant colours of the spectacular natural environment. A large curving Emerald Quartzite kitchen bench echoes a conch, with subtle green tones that complement the hues of the landscape and reef beyond The House. The material selection is intentionally restrained.


As The House is designed to sit lightly within the pristine landscape, it was critical for JDA Co. to understand the challenging rock bed formation on site prior to detailed design and construction. We used our in-house 3D laser technology, Spatial Ops, to explore, walk-through and design right into the landscape, often from off-site. We also used the technology to document construction work-in-progress. Building elements, such as the spiral stair formwork, were laser-scanned to provide an accurate model to contractors. As most building elements needed to be fabricated off site and shipped to the island, having a precise digital model to work from was vital.

Our experience in scanning on Lizard Island proves the benefits of Spatial Ops technology to scan objects and places around the world. Time on site can be minimised and analysing the data can begin within a couple of days after the site visit. The need to travel to and from hard to access sites is obsolete, thanks to our scanning technology and processes.

© JDA Co. 2024 / Site by Superminimal