C House

E X E M P L A R    A N A L Y S I S    / /    C    H O U S E    / /    D O N O V A N    H I L L

Background / Authors Note:
Donovan Hill is a a co-founded architectural firm from Brisbane, Queensland Australia. Founded and run by Brian Donovan and Timothy Hill; their partnership rapidly expanded into a firm of 35 architects. 

Currently, Donovan Hill is regarded as one of the most capable and respectably coherent architectural firms within Brisbane; recipients of distinguished critical acclaim from the RAIA, Zelman Cowen Awards and Brisbane architects alike. 

The success of Donovan Hill stems from what i believe to be an natural yet defined understanding of deep archetypal patterns which make us feel alive and human.

C House (seen right) in Coorparoo  is certainly an ambassador for Donovan Hill's collective understanding of the fluent and delightful archetypal language that they have come to establish in their name. Over the course of the next reflection, there will be an in depth analysis of C House with respects to it's pre-determined role as an environmental filter, a container for human activities and its innate qualities that make it a delightful experience. 

C House by Donovan Hill

Year Completed: 1998
Locale: Coorparoo, Queensland Australia.   

House as an Environmental Filter:
The house has been re-fashioned into a series of sub-sites that include both indoor and outdoor spaces. These sub-sites follow the gradient of the landscape, dipping and rising with the land upon which it was created, giving the experience of 'typical terrain'. The landscape metaphor has been completely extended to the point where the house itself feels like a landscape. 

Compared to Rick Joy (Tubac House) Donovan Hill have blurred the lines between the surrounding nature and the home itself - they subtly share their experiences, similar perhaps to Rick Joy's courtyard within Tubac House, which is an exclusively individual space with unique characteristics within his work. Here, in C House, this overlapping of the landscape and the house feel as if it can be experienced in several rooms, when you climb from one to the next you can help feel as if the house is a man-made landscape. 

Being in Queensland environment the architects had to consider good ventilation throughout. There are several open spaces with tall ceilings, the cool breeze is forced through in convection currents that keep the interior of the house at a comfortable and delightful climate. The pool is also a response to the Queensland temperate area, to cool down when things get just too hot. The pool area seems to be a deeply spiritual area, the lake within the landscape if you will. One end of the pool rests in shade, while the other soaks up the heat of the sun. 

The House as a Container for Human Activities:
The rooms of the house all seem to gather around a central 'memorable room' in which public activities are carried out. The centrality and grandeur of this public space (seen right) suggest that the house has imbued qualities as a place for entertainment and large social gatherings of people, which must have been specified by the private client. The house does however, take into consideration future generations, and is designed to house units such as the individual, the family, and the couple. 

"Places for cooking, washing and resting all benefit from experiences that can be sustained over the life of the building - the action of light, the reactivity to the landscape and climate, the sense of defended territory, the elaboration of openings and material sensuality." - Donovan Hill, 1998. Within this statement, we can see the inner workings of our own analysis that we are conducting within this article. It is quite clear that C House considers all aspects discussed so far, and much more into the realms of architectural delight which we will now discuss. 

The House as a Delightful Experience:

C House plays with the concepts of 'house as the landscape' and in this sense i believe it it is successful. C House creates a landscape in which light creates a dramatic and crisp contrast within it's spaces. 

Views are neatly framed by the forms of the built framework, yielding a sense of human and control and simplicity. The house reveals itself as a form of 'fine art' in the Frank Lloyd Wright sense of the word; that is to say, it seems entirely natural in a human scope. 

By interchanging levels and form within it's interior landscape, Donovan Hill have succeeded in creating architecture which embodies the spiritual playfulness of human innovation and behaviours. 

In conclusion, C House delivers it's delight through the understandings of both classical concepts such as the Vitruvian properties discussed above, but also in a contemporary sense of practicality and modern 'natural' and vernacular design. 


Donovan B., Hill T., 2000. "In The Mind of the Architect: Episiode 3". ABC Television Transcript. http://www.abc.net.au/arts/architecture/ep_trn3.htm

Donovan B., Hill T., 2000. "C House Profile". Statement by the Architects.

Royal Australian Institute of Architects. 2010. "C House Citation".