Copper cladding

Burnished beauty

With its curved facade and copper cladding, this home has quickly become one of the more striking builds in the Gold Coast region.


Philip O’Brien

After a decade of domination by lighter colours, there’s a subtle inclination in Australian housing facades towards earthy, organic tones and textures. Copper House, a recently completed project in Currumbin, Queensland, is a stunning example of this.

Located on Currumbin Hill, with views of the Surfers Paradise skyline, Copper House is a three-storey build by HIA member Sanctuary 28 Projects, a Gold Coast-based firm which specialises in quality custom homes and renovations. The house’s shapely, curved facade features copper cladding that wraps around two levels, alongside artistic circular balustrade screening.

It’s an unusual and eye-catching addition to a sought-after residential area.

‘The clients approached us with their ideas and we sourced the block of land for them,’ says director Don Cotterill. ‘They then chose the architect, Paul Uhlmann, to design a functional family home with a signature style that would stand the test of time.’

Despite its beautiful location, the block presented many construction challenges.

Copper cladding
The shapely, curved facade features copper cladding that wraps around two levels
Copper House living area
The Copper House is a functional family home with a signature style, designed to stand the test of time

‘It was a battle-axe block, so we had reduced access to the property,’ Don says. ‘It was also very steep – a more than one in four gradient – and the site was covered in large trees with power lines at street level which would restrict our use of cranes.

‘It’s also in the Currumbin Hill conservation area, in a bushfire zone and under the flight path, so we needed to consider acoustic insulation. Then there was the possibility of land slippage and the reality of the (sewerage) easement running through the site. All of these [factors] had an impact on the design.’

As such, both builder and architect stayed in close consultation during the design phase.

In the early stages contractors also expressed their doubts about moving their equipment through the narrow access. But, then, Don had stroke of good fortune.

‘There was an empty, derelict old house at the front of the block,’ he says. ‘I knew the owner and she agreed to its demolition. In no time it was just a vacant block of dirt and we soon were parking concrete trucks, pumps and cranes as work proceeded on the build.’

Contemporary bathroom

This home exemplifies an increasing trend towards darker tones in contemporary Australian housing

Another big challenge to overcome during construction was the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie, which caused torrential rains throughout Southern Queensland in early 2017.

‘On a hill, the property experienced a huge run-off,’ Don recalls. ‘Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t hold it all back and it delayed work on the house. But, as a precaution for future wet seasons, we’ve installed hydraulics that capture all the surplus water from the blocks above; this is piped into a system designed to cope with a one-in-a-100-year event.’

The business’ response to these challenges exemplify the highly personalised service that the firm offers. ‘Each of our clients is special to us and not just a number,’ Don says. ‘From concept to estimates, to project management and construction, we look after all aspects of each build, with an emphasis on exceptional craftsmanship and service.’ 

Copper House is a contrast – in both style and colour scheme – to many of the homes that the business has built in recent years. ‘It was certainly structurally challenging to form those curves,’ Don says. ‘But the shape blends organically with the site and with the natural environment of the hillside. And the copper cladding provided a wonderful opportunity for us to work with this material on such a grand scale.’

‘Each of our clients is special to us and not just a number’

Don believes this house exemplifies an increasing trend towards darker tones in contemporary Australian housing.

‘The copper has a unique colour of its own and contrasts with the black accents of the window surrounds, which are dark timber,’ he says. ‘A lot of the products we’ve used in the construction are natural and have their own organic colours.’

One of these natural products is timber. Both spotted gum and blackbutt were used extensively throughout the home, from the exterior cladding, flooring and ceilings, to the internal staircase – which steadily climbs upwards from the lower level carport and plant room, wrapping itself around a timber feature wall and transparent lift shaft.

The middle level of the house comprises master and minor bedrooms, a living area and two bathrooms, with an ensuite, while the top level offers a luxurious living, kitchen and dining area which flows onto the panoramic deck.

Copper cladding
‘[Copper] oxidises but doesn’t rust, and is actually a good building product for that location’
Outdoor entertainment decking
The top level offers a luxurious living, kitchen and dining area which flows onto a panoramic deck

‘The owners just love the location and the way it suits their lifestyle as a close family. For instance, all the boys’ bedrooms are in a row and open up into one another – galley style – with slide-away walls. This house has been specifically designed and built to suit their needs.’

Members since 2001, Sanctuary 28 Projects enjoys the range of HIA services offered, including legal and technical advice. ‘I also think it’s important for credibility as a builder to be a member of the association,’ Don says.

Beginning his carpentry apprenticeship in 1979, Don moved to the Gold Coast in 1983 where he joined a home building company and worked his way up from being ‘on the tools’ to general manager. He left in 2001 to establish Sanctuary 28 Projects, using his wide industry experience to source the very best suppliers and contractors.

‘Managing people and personalities is a crucial part of the job,’ he says. ‘Codes and regulations can easily be looked up, but I’ve learned that developing a happy team is just as important in providing our clients with an exceptional product.’

With its setting and unusual facade, Copper House has already become one of the more visually arresting homes in the region, showcasing the best of what the business has to offer.

Copper cladding

Copper House at a glance

Builder: Sanctuary 28 Projects

Designer: Paul Uhlmann Architects

Location: Currumbin, Qld


  • Copper cladding: ZC Technical
  • Structural steel: Bowden Welding
  • Aluminium windows and doors: Bradnams
  • Internal doors: Corinthian and Duce
  • Blackbutt timber flooring: QLD Timber Flooring
  • Curved balustrade: Waterart
  • Joinery: Germancraft
  • Lift: The Lift Shop
  • Stairs: Queensland Stairs
  • Plumbing fittings: Reece Bundall

Not an HIA member yet? By joining Australia’s largest national association for the residential building industry, you’ll get access to a range of member benefits, as well as industry products and business services designed to help you manage, operate and grow.

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