A Funky, Curvaceous Rainforest Home in Australia Hits the Market

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By Michele Koh Morollo
The incredible, award-winning abode was built by architect Jesse Bennett and interior designer Anne-Marie Campagnolo to serve as their own home.

Designed by the Australian husband-and-wife team behind Jesse Bennett Studio as their personal home, Planchonella House is nestled in virgin rainforests in the suburb of Edge Hill in Cairns, Australia, and now the quirky, award-winning residence is up for sale through Modern House Estate Agents (price upon request).

Architect-builder Jesse Bennett and interior designer Anne-Marie Campagnolo camped on site during the build of Planchonella House, whose exuberant design mirrors its tropical environment. 

Architect-builder Jesse Bennett and interior designer Anne-Marie Campagnolo camped on site during the build of Planchonella House, whose exuberant design mirrors its tropical environment. 

Minimal internal walls allow for unobstructed views.

Minimal internal walls allow for unobstructed views.

Behind the home, a glade facing northeast offers a protected outdoor oasis set within the rainforest ridge with a magnesium-filtered, above-ground pool.  

Behind the home, a glade facing northeast offers a protected outdoor oasis set within the rainforest ridge with a magnesium-filtered, above-ground pool.  

The concrete platforms are set on large black columns, and cantilever over the driveway. Underneath the house is a workshop and parking area.

The concrete platforms are set on large black columns, and cantilever over the driveway. Underneath the house is a workshop and parking area.

The 2,583-square-foot house responds to the climate and topography of its dense forest site. In its sculptural—but highly functional—form, one can see undertones of Brazilian modernism. The house has even been compared to John Lautner’s Arango House in Acapulco, Mexico; Lina Bo Bardi’s work in Brazil; and even Alvar Alto’s Savoy Vase

A curved pink couch designed by Campagnola curves around a 1970s-style conversation pit in the living room.

A curved pink couch designed by Campagnola curves around a 1970s-style conversation pit in the living room.

Bennett and Campagnolo were involved in all aspects of the design, from the architecture to the landscaping and interiors, as well as details like door handles and clothes hooks. They went so far as to camp on the site while the house was being constructed to really get feel of the land. 

A rosewood bench in the kitchen folds to form an outdoor seat.

A rosewood bench in the kitchen folds to form an outdoor seat.

The result is a skillfully handcrafted home that has won numerous Australian design awards, including the prestigious Robin Boyd Award for Residential Architecture in the 2015 National Architecture Awards. 

Robust, raw materials such as concrete, brick, and timber highlight the house’s sculptural form, while the glass walls create a sense of full immersion in the rainforest.

Robust, raw materials such as concrete, brick, and timber highlight the house’s sculptural form, while the glass walls create a sense of full immersion in the rainforest.

The curvy, organic shape of the house, which is composed of a concrete platform roof and floor, is guided by the contours of the site’s ridgeline. At the front, the platforms extend outwards like wings that float above the ridge, and stretch out into the top of the trees.

Between the common areas and the master bedroom is a timber wall with a bookshelf on one side.

Between the common areas and the master bedroom is a timber wall with a bookshelf on one side.

In the kitchen, a built-in timber breakfast booth is the perfect spot to enjoy the dappled morning sunlight.

In the kitchen, a built-in timber breakfast booth is the perfect spot to enjoy the dappled morning sunlight.

Glass walls wrap around the edges of the concrete platforms to create indoor spaces that feel as if they are part of the canopy.

On the rooftop, more than 600 Rhoeo spathacea plants, also known as Moses in the Cradle, flow over the concrete platforms.

On the rooftop, more than 600 Rhoeo spathacea plants, also known as Moses in the Cradle, flow over the concrete platforms.

Recessed areas serve as outdoor patios with deep, rounded eaves. 

 The glazed vertical panels have fine, black silicone lines that define the joints, and solid rosewood frames around the operable windows.  

 The glazed vertical panels have fine, black silicone lines that define the joints, and solid rosewood frames around the operable windows.  

An open, glass-encased shower gives the homeowners the sensation of bathing outdoors.

An open, glass-encased shower gives the homeowners the sensation of bathing outdoors.

Within, an L-shaped floor plan accommodates the common areas, which include a kitchen with a butler’s pantry and breakfast booth, a lounge, a dining room, and a deck that looks out to views of the hinterland and city. The adjacent master bedroom, bathroom, and dressing room are separated from the common areas by a timber wall; an additional two bedrooms, a bathroom, and multipurpose studio space extend from the rear of the house. 

Hand-printed wallpaper by Erica Wakerly livens up the dressing room.

Hand-printed wallpaper by Erica Wakerly livens up the dressing room.

Most of the furniture and fixtures, including the tables, bathtub, wardrobe, clothes hooks, and door handles, were handcrafted by Bennett.  

Most of the furniture and fixtures, including the tables, bathtub, wardrobe, clothes hooks, and door handles, were handcrafted by Bennett.  

Cheerful midcentury colors, vintage furniture, and vibrant wall coverings all work beautifully to complement the house’s organic silhouette and lush, green surroundings.   

 The wall in the master bedroom is upholstered in tropical print fabric by Christian Lacroix. 

 The wall in the master bedroom is upholstered in tropical print fabric by Christian Lacroix. 

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