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Double the sensation

Photographer : Jessica Aleece

Double the sensation

Photographer : Jessica Aleece
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With its elevated living and classic weatherboard exterior, the 2023 HIA Australian Townhouse/Villa of the Year by Mactech Constructions is a showstopping take on the modern Queenslander.

Laura Valic


From your first glimpse of the contemporary, coastal-inspired Jefferson residence, you’d be forgiven for mistaking the Gold Coast property for an upscale family home or weekender. That, however, was the design intent of builder Nick McDonald of Mactech Constructions, who purchased the lot in 2020 for an ambitious duplex development.

With the block itself only 10 metres wide, each townhouse would be configured to fit across half the site – a difficult undertaking without the added complication of a one-way lane on one side and the busy Gold Coast Highway on the other.

The contemporary Jefferson duplex uses a neutral palette of textured materials
Mactech Constructions won the 2023 HIA Australian Townhouse/Villa of the Year award

As the owner and director of a firm that specialises in complex residential construction – including the completion of an incredible floating house in Burleigh Heads and the amazing Brutalist-inspired concrete structure that was named the 2022 HIA-CSR Queensland Home of the Year – challenges like this are par for the course. 

‘We typically build high-end custom homes but saw a gap in the market for luxury duplexes on the beach side of the Gold Coast,’ explains Nick, who became a member while obtaining his builder’s license through HIA nearly 15 years ago. 

Branching out proved to be a shrewd move for the business, with the project generating a stir and nabbing several accolades, including the national 2023 HIA Australian Townhouse/Villa of the Year award in May.

The pool provides a dramatic overhead entrance for guests
The brief included clever use of space and showstopping features

Since Nick and his wife Brigette planned to live in one of the homes, the couple teamed up with designer Jayson Pate to collaborate on a coastal-chic minimalist design to reflect the duplex’s seaside location. The brief called for the clever use of space across several levels, along with showstopping features to set the tone for the whole building.

Externally, the Jefferson development creates a sensation with its classic white facade, draping foliage and elevated pool over the top of the garage. Thanks to a high-level glass front, the water is visible from the street – seemingly hovering mid-air – while a viewing window in the pool’s floor provides a dramatic overhead entrance for guests stepping through the gatehouse. 

Due to the home’s proximity to the ocean, Nick opted for durable, low-maintenance materials for the exterior cladding. ‘We wanted a simple look, so we chose the Linea Weatherboard by James Hardie to complement the Rockcote render,’ he says. ‘The boards are pre-primed and made out of Hardie Fibre Cement, which means they resist shrinking, swelling and warping.’

Tough beauty

Linea Weatherboard by James Hardie is made for the Australian climate.

Being both tough and beautiful, it has broad design potential and is well suited for modern coastal styles, such as the award-winning luxury Jefferson duplex.

It can be painted darker shades or offset by textured panels on multi-storey homes.

The company says you can harness the distinctive features of traditional weatherboard without the hassles of timber – and with the benefits of Hardie fibre cement.

Linea Weatherboard is part of the Hardie Architectural Collection of profiles and textures that deliver modern exteriors from the ground up.

While the project offers a striking aesthetic, inside and out, flow and function of the interiors was Mactech Construction’s highest priority. This was skilfully achieved by manipulating the visual perception of space and light internally. Soaring raked ceilings, exposed trusses, voids and the inventive use of skylights, feature lighting and sculptural curved forms come together to create an open feel. The inclusion of large corner bifold doors, connecting the kitchen and living area with the courtyard and pool, also lend to this spacious feel.

‘When you walk inside, you lose all sense of how narrow it is,’ Nick explains. ‘We have between three to five-metre-high ceilings throughout. Pushing the setbacks out to the maximum amount we could get through council allowed us to give the impression of a decent-sized footprint. On a narrow lot, every small amount is a big amount.’ 

Corner bifold doors open up the kitchen/living area to the courtyard and pool
The Jefferson even includes an attic converted to a kids place space

What Mactech Constructions and Jayson Pate Design managed to fit inside each dwelling while maintaining an airy, light-filled ambience is extraordinary. A large basement now includes a four-car garage, gym, cellar, sauna and cinema room for each dwelling. On the upper levels, a predominantly neutral interior scheme unfolds across four bedrooms, three bathrooms and an attic utilised for a children’s playroom.

The contemporary layered palette comprises textures rather than colours – from travertine tiles and polished micro-cement floors to VJ cladding and Basque stone walls. The elements seamlessly merge into one another in pared-back elegance. 

Unexpectedly, the open-plan master suite and walk-in-robe has a distinct jungle-esque vibe with high-set irrigated planters wrapping around the room and an abundance of hanging vines and lush shrubbery. Nick says this out-of-the-box thinking was all about softening the interiors and creating a point of difference. 

‘I grew up on an acreage with lots of green space,’ Nick explains. ‘But while living in suburbia, I wanted to bring more of the outdoors in. It’s one of my favourite aspects of the place and has now become a feature of our projects.’

Irrigated planters filled with lush shrubbery provides a distinct jungle-esque vibe in the master suite
The spacious basement includes a wine cellar, along with a gym, sauna, cinema room and four-car garage

Completed in November 2021 after a 14-month build, the project stood out to HIA judges, who could not find fault in the level of detail, finish and workmanship. Nick felt honoured to be acknowledged at a national level against a competitive category. He puts their success down to the collaborative spirit and commitment to quality shown by everyone involved in the project.

‘We insist on meticulous attention to detail and use an exclusive team of tradespeople who share our passion for excellence and are selected for their skill, expertise and dedication to their craft,’ Nick says. ‘Our results speak volumes.’

Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme

Partnering with industry

Proudly sponsored by NatHERS in 2023, the HIA Australian Townhouse/Villa of the Year Award celebrates the innovation and excellence in construction and design of an individual residential dwelling within a townhouse/villa development.

'We know that home energy performance is becoming more and more important to Australians, whether they are in a detached home, apartment, villa or townhouse,' said Penny Sirault, the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) Administrator.

'This is why NatHERS is excited to sponsor this award, which demonstrates the ability to design beautiful villas and townhouses that are also energy efficient, with lower running costs and emissions.

'NatHERS looks forward to continuing to provide home energy rating tools that help the housing industry balance science alongside great design, to get a great outcome on every level.' 


Mactech Constructions


Jayson Pate Design


Palm Beach, Gold Coast




2023 HIA Australian Townhouse/Villa of the Year


  • Exterior: Linea Weatherboard by James Hardie; Rockcote Hydraguard render; Basque stone cladding, Stone Style
  • Garage battens: Matte white aluminium, J&B garage doors
  • Flooring: Travertine tiles and cobblestone, Stone Style/deluxe tiling
  • Interiors: MDF VJ; Basque stone cladding, Stone Style; polished render; Hardie Groove Lining
  • Flooring: microtopping (basement and ground levels); tongue and groove engineered timber; travertine tiles, Stone Style
  • Kitchen and bathrooms: benchtop, Germancraft; fixtures, Reece.

First published on 12 July 2023

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