Big Small House

Big Small House

POD (People Oriented Design)
Palm Cove Queensland, Australia
Project Year
Private Houses
Nic Granleese
Product Spec Sheet

External cladding – Old Style weatherboardJames Hardie
Awning Hung and Casement Windows – clear anodised framesBradnam’s
Altair Louvre windows – clear anodised framesBreezeway
Walls and ceilings – GyprockCSR
Door furniture – Angular seriesGainsborough
Roof Sheeting – Trimdeck, Colorbond BasaltLysaght

Product Spec Sheet
External cladding – Old Style weatherboard
Awning Hung and Casement Windows – clear anodised frames
Altair Louvre windows – clear anodised frames
Walls and ceilings – Gyprock
by CSR
Door furniture – Angular series
Roof Sheeting – Trimdeck, Colorbond Basalt
by Lysaght

Big Small House

POD (People Oriented Design) as Architects

The Big Small House embodies “The Least House Necessary” philosophy, embracing client/architectcollaboration, and presenting a new model for sustainable tropical living that is grounded in successfulhistoric precedents. The brief called for an efficient, passively cooled family home in a tropical gardensetting, made of honest, affordable materials. A ground floor studio and bathroom were required toaccommodate varying mobility. There was also a desire for the house to perform as a gallery for theartist in the family. The design is purposefully two storeys, maximising area for the garden.


In section, the house reflects traditional Queenslanders with the upper floor overhanging the lower, layeringclimatic protection from roof to ground. The resulting undercroft becomes an internal verandah andliving space with fluid inside/outside connections. The surrounding landscape will become the outerfilter to the house, providing additional privacy screening and climatic control. The landscape ispredominantly native endemic and edible species, contributing to food security and the adjacentriparian corridor. Sustainability informed design decisions, from siting and climatic performance tomaterial selection. Materials included locally sourced plantation timbers, low VOC paints, raw blockworkfinishes and E0 cabinetwork.


There is a rainwater tank and connectivity for a future photovoltaic
system. The 238m² dwelling sits easily on the 612m² suburban lot, leaving more than 70% of the sitefor landscape and pool. Orientation and siting maximise passive climatic performance, capturingbreezes, and providing shaded living and garden spaces throughout the day. A central void andclerestory windows ventilate the spaces vertically, while the upstairs gallery and breezeway moves air throughout the length of the house. A level of craft was required in construction detailing to achieve theraw, clean aesthetic:

  • single skin, translucent stair of Australian hardwood and polycarbonate sheeting;
  • galvanised "fence" balustrade surrounding the void and stair;
  • off-form concrete plinths onthe terrace, with cast in relief patterns from recycled pallets;
  • clear finished stack bond blockworkwalls with crisp white mortar.

Big Small House represents value for money ($2250/m²), whilst deliveringhigh quality outcomes and finishes in a bespoke house designed for sustainable tropical living.


Material Used :

1. James Hardie – external cladding – Old Style weather board
2. Concrete Blockwork – stackbond blockwork, raked joints
3. Pioneer North Qld - ground floor slab polished concrete with Barron exposed aggregate
4. Off form concrete plinths, formwork made from recycled pallet pine
5. Lysaght – Roof Sheeting – Trimdeck, Colorbond Basalt
6. Palram – Stairwell surround – Sunlite Polycarbonate sheet in Solar Ice and Clear
7. Breezeway – Altair Louvre windows – clear anodised frames
8. Bradnams – Awning Hung and Casement Windows – clear anodised frames
8. Gainsborough – Door furniture – Angular series
9. Floors level 1 – Radiata pine plywood sheet, A grade face – Wattyl Limewash stain with 2 pack clear finish
10. CSR - Walls and ceilings – Gyprock
11. Skirtings – finger jointed pine
12. Joinery – EO MR MDF carcases with either Abond ply benchtop or Kauri pine benchtop (kitchen)
13. Reece plumbing - Bathroom and laundry fittings – Mizu range

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Project Credits
30 St Mary Axe
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30 St Mary Axe

Build completed in 2004
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