Wilson’s Cottage
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Wilson’s Cottage

Layered with Australian history, the secluded Lizard Island site called for ecologically sensitive design which respects the island’s remote and serene environment. Great innovation was required in order to navigate the difficult terrain surrounding the site.

01. Brief


The clients’ ambition for this project was to create the best reef house in the world — with this as a starting point, coupled with the site’s world heritage listed, island location, we had the opportunity to create a truly bespoke house that responded with an architectural sensitivity that reflected its pristine environment. 

02. Location

As a direct reflection of its remote, and at times harsh environment, the physical form of the house became one of a robust outer timber shell which is designed to weather over time in meshing with the surrounding geology to recede even further in its landscape over time.

With an eye to the physical qualities of the site, the design concept became not only about touching the earth lightly but also about receding into the landscape and hugging the slope of the hill so that the physical presence of the house became hidden in its surrounds.

03. 3D Laser Scanning

Our ongoing work on Lizard Island has given us a unique opportunity to record the incredibly beautiful and remote island.


Where the investigation of the site is so critical, and site visits are so difficult, we’ve been able to explore, walk through, and design right into the landscape, allowing us a new level of site responsive design.

04. Construction

To protect the landscape and reef during construction, materials were delivered to the island via an existing barge and onto an offshore pontoon.

The pontoon was then pulled into shore to the beachfront below the site. From there, a flying fox contraption was built to carry the materials from the beach, up onto the site, leaving the landscape below untouched.

05. Outcome

The house functions perfectly well off-grid and has been designed to encourage passive cross-ventilation.


The use of vertical louvres assists in shading the structure whilst also guiding prevailing breezes into the house’s interior. These elements allow occupants not rely on heavy air conditioning even in its tropical location. All building materials were sourced in north Queensland and have been selected for their longevity.

06. Details

Most times the house is left completely open, while other times it serves as the protector during the harsh climatic events for which the region is known.

The design of the house consists of a refined interior over which floats a beautiful parasol roof that acts more like a tree in shading the house throughout the day.