Queensland real estate: Life inside the Aussie tropical masterpiece with no walls

What constitutes the best of Australian home design?

An ornate Queenslander on stilts, a handsome terrace on rocks by Sydney Harbour or a row of sweet, single-fronted Victorian-era cottages?

They would all qualify, but it could just be that the most Aussie home ever made is one without walls.

And so it is at Stamp House – also known as high-end holiday rental Akira – at 3726 Cape Tribulation Road in Cape Tribulation, which goes to auction on October 12. Here, there are no walls in the communal living space – it is totally open to nature.

Listing: see more images of the property here

Alkira listing resort architecture unusual luxury
(Domain)

The house, completed in 2013 after a meticulous process by architect Charles Wright, is an ever-changing organism itself within an ancient, tropical environment, doing so with quiet luxury. Qualities of humility and purpose, at one with birds and animals – nothing could be more Australian.

The former owner, who commissioned its creation, was a stamp collector, and elements of the design reflect this, including the shape of the centrepiece pool and the portholes punctuating the exterior (like a stamp’s perforations).

The main living quarters do not have walls (but the bedrooms do), encased in glass balustrade and cascading water features, connecting everyday life to an 180 million-year-old rainforest. 

My partner and I visited the Queensland House of the Year, which is enveloped by the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest, where it converges with the Great Barrier Reef, about 2.5 hours north of Cairns.

He is a keen camper and drew parallels between the design and the simple life. That a property which last sold for $4 million can be so unpretentious speaks to how special it is, despite being intentionally unembellished.

READ MORE: F45 founder Rob Deutsch’s absolute beachfront Sydney pad springs onto the market for $2.1 million

Cape Tribulation Queensland design real estate
The nighttime view of the main bedroom deck and outdoor bath. The property goes to auction on October 12. (Emily Power)

To describe the house, sometimes affectionately referred to as a “spaceship” for its shape, hovering over a manmade ecosystem – a lake, which is home to eels, fish and turtles – from photos alone would be two dimensional.

You need to hear the Aussie landscape reverberating around you, feet on the refreshing polished concrete floor, to understand why the design is so miraculous – and smart.

The bedrooms – six in total, five with balconies and one on the lower level, with louvres to the lake – are in cantilevered prongs which spread like the wings of the white-bellied sea eagles soaring overhead while you brew a morning coffee, from a kitchen, living and dining zone.

Cathedral-like banks of angular concrete – geometric but in surprising configurations – comprise the communal area of this open-air estate and change in depth as the sun moves.

READ MORE: Tasmania’s $2.3 million ‘Hobbit House’ for sale blends in with its idyllic surroundings

Alkira Stamp House design architecture
The view from one of the bedrooms, looking across the stainless-steel, gourmet-grade kitchen to the left, a sunken lounge beyond and the lake stretching out to the right. (Emily Power)

The turquoise pool is in the middle (where there is no ceiling, but a mountainscape instead) and the pop of blue is visible from all aspects of the living space. It contrasts with the lush green and the austere concrete. There is no need for artwork or elaborate décor when the design provides those flash points of appreciation and, surprisingly, there is very little furniture – a dining table, a kitchen table, two hanging chairs and two built-in lounges.

Birds cartwheel through the house. Like kids, they play in pairs, shooting past as you do the most mundane tasks (like airing a load of washing). It’s magical. A large green tree frog plopped onto the glass next to the lounge one night, after dark.

Lights illuminate the rainforest around the perimeter of the lake (which you cross to enter, over a bridge from a locked gatehouse) and this is just one of the attributes you notice as time glides on. Something that was camouflaged at dusk will come to the fore in the brilliant morning light and vice versa.

When the sun goes down, the rainforest echoes with new sounds of wildlife, whereas the daytime is mostly quiet – only the tinkle of the water feature that softly beads from the top floor down, in a long waterfall. Here, below, are a cinema, bedroom, huge powder room and laundry.

This chorus of the rainforest would be an experience for children that you couldn’t get in a classroom.

READ MORE: Coastal cottage in Queensland with ‘views from the front deck’ lists for well under $1 million

Cape Tribulation Akira Stamp House design property
The central pool, open to the sky and the ridgeline, and the gatehouse beyond. (Emily Power)

The bedrooms have screen doors to decks and balconies and are enclosed so you are protected. You can’t leave food scraps around in a house without walls, encouraging tidy habits, although a pest controller will tell you little critters can also get into a house in the suburbs with the shell of Fort Knox.

The humidity of Far-North Queensland has a sting in its tail and there is a naturally cooling flow through the open property, where you can have a dip and then take a few steps to the kitchen to flip a steak on the hob. My partner watched the AFL Grand Final in the pool. Stamp House has eco-credentials, solar power and is off grid.

The auction is on October 12 at a Queensland Sotheby’s International Realty auction gala in Brisbane, along with several other luxury homes, and is on the books of Sotheby’s Port Douglas agent Lynn Malone.

“In Melbourne, luxury could be considered a property in Toorak, and in Sydney, it could be in Mosman or Vaucluse – this is another dimension of luxury,” she says.

“Who else could top this? How would you ever do it again?”

The home is a collector’s edition and within 12 months of its build won many local, national and international awards. It is so singular that it would not work in any other environment or location and so here it is, on almost 30 hectares, including 600 metres of private beach, in a world – and category – of its own.

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