This waterfront Australian home sold for a record price

With a design inspired by luxury properties in Miami, Armorel imports the pizazz of the Florida coastline to southern Queensland

Armorel marks the Queensland-based company’s 22nd project since its founding in 2019

Australia’s affinity for the water is widely documented. For all the vastness of the Outback, people tend to reside along the continent’s more habitable, less arid coasts.

Many of these residences are anything but ordinary. Stoked by Australia’s expanding high-net-worth populace, prestige home sales have heated up in seaside metropolises from Melbourne to Sydney.

In February, an international buyer forked out AUD7.7m (USD5 million) ahead of auction for a six-bedroom waterfront residence in Mermaid Waters, a suburb of Gold Coast.

The extraordinary attributes of the property, named Armorel (Gaelic for “One who lives by the sea”), appear to merit the investment. The double-storey mansion spans 22.1 metres of waterfront frontage, complete with a private beach.

A local agent had brought the developer, Capital Luxury Residences, to the almost 1,000-square-metre site at 84 Oceanic Drive, then owned by fitness influencer Rachel Dillon. By early 2022, the plot exchanged hands for AUD1.985 million.

The parcel’s location along a canal and the open waters of Lake Wonderland endeared it to the developer. “This made it an ideal canvas to create a special home,” says Philip Pezzi, chairman of Capital Luxury Residences.

Armorel marks the Queensland-based company’s 22nd project since its founding in 2019. Melbourne-based design practice Mason Bright has been a frequent collaborator on numerous projects for the company, and Armorel is no different.

Sweeping curves and double-height voids imbue Armorel with fluidity and spatial dynamics, yet it’s the spiral staircase that captivates as the centrepiece of the home

“The design wouldn’t come together without the work from Mason Bright architects who brought this beautiful house to life from sort of nothing to what it is now,” says Alissa Birch, chief executive of Capital Luxury Residences.

Birch, who also serves as the company’s design director, felt it important to conceptualise architecture inspired by luxury Miami properties, mixed with the essence of five-star hotels. Birch had immersed herself in resorts and homes along the southern Florida coast before embarking on the project design.

“The site provided many challenges with significant design parameters,” says Jim Giamarelos, co-founder and director of Mason Bright. “We are proud of the entire project team for rising to the challenge, meeting and exceeding the brief and ultimately delivering a timeless, luxurious, and opulent waterfront home.”

Giamarelos’ team worked with Birch and Pezzi for six months to finalise the design, a departure from the brown brick structure that Dillon had called home. In its stead stands a humongous dwelling of stone and glass, embellished with cantilevered greenery and imaginative outdoor spaces.

We are proud of the entire project team for rising to the challenge, meeting and exceeding the brief and ultimately delivering a timeless, luxurious, and opulent waterfront home

The floorplan of the home was laid out in a U-shaped configuration, giving residents optimal views of the surroundings. Floor-to-ceiling windows and double glazing wrap the daylight-soaked home from front to rear, leading out to a sunken fire pit with panoramic lake views.

From the floors to the benchtops, the house uses copious amounts of stone internally. In the kitchen, a massive island, made from a single piece of sintered stone, showcases fluted legs and grooved characteristics that recall sandbanks. The curves of the joinery were also designed to be reminiscent of waves.

Residents and guests can take in breathtaking water and sunset views from the sunken fire pit

The Capital Luxury Residences team designed the lighting and tapware, manufactured specifically for the home. “All aspects of the design were bespoke, which was the key agenda for the residents,” says Pezzi.

The cabinetry and joinery originated in Europe while the marble was imported from Turkey and Italy. The development team had fallen “in love” with a marble variety discovered during a trip overseas.

Book-matched marble adorns the tiles of the main ensuite, which also contains a hand-carved marble tub where bathers can further appreciate the views. The residence also uses travertine and engineered timber, some used as cladding.

“The resident gave the Capital Luxury Residences design team complete control over the project and trusted their judgement and, more particularly, their ability to source materials globally for this project,” says Pezzi.

On the sustainability front, the property features heat-resistant windows and thermal cladding, plus solar panels that contribute to its off-grid energy supply.

Landscape designer Bespoke Scape selected plants that were capable of withstanding the relatively harsh Queensland summers. For the planter boxes encircling the entire façade, this emphasis was particularly crucial. The boxes had to support significant soil weight in a cantilevered design, elevated over 4 metres above the ground.

Since residents would have limited access to the hanging plants, a self-watering system was in order. Landscape irrigation was designed to be centrally controlled, allowing residents to manage water levels across all seven zones of greenery.

The entire development, from obtaining permits to handover, was completed in just over 18 months. “The construction was managed by one of our senior construction managers who oversaw the entire project to ensure it ran smoothly,” says Pezzi. “The key challenge was getting out of the ground, given the property is on the water, so ground stability and water ingress have to be overcome.

Resilient plants, chosen for their ability to thrive in Queensland’s hot summers, grace the planter boxes around the façade

In consultation with Structural Innovations Australia (SIA) engineers, Giamarelos’ team strategically positioned screw piles throughout the site. These enabled the footings to be securely anchored in stable ground. To address rising floodwater ingress, elevated tiered platforms were constructed, leading from the waterfront to the home.

“Land slope, flood levels, and city and waterfront views were but only some of the special conditions and peculiarities that informed the final design outcome,” says Giamarelos.

Additionally, the team installed a jetty capable of accommodating a 60-foot boat. Upon entering the home, guests are drawn to one of the property’s most spectacular features, the staircase.

“Sweeping curves and double-height voids provide flow and spatial play to the home, but by far the feature and centrepiece of the home is the spiral staircase,” says Giamarelos.

The sculptural piece, visible through floor-to-ceiling glazing on both ends of the property, features black microcement treads. Positioned beneath a four-metre-wide skylight, the staircase is bathed in sunshine as it leads to the upper-level bedrooms.

Armorel is purposefully designed as a waterside residence, with the jetty serving as both a prominent visual feature and a functional necessity

In addition to the exquisite build, Capital Luxury Residences allocated AUD250,000 to invest in smart home technology for Armorel. “This was the first project in which we took smart technology to a new level to incorporate the entire home, which enabled the residents to control everything from their phone and tablet,” says Pezzi. “Given that residents travel constantly, they wanted to ensure security was paramount and they could allow access to people without being home.”

With its completion, Armorel deepens Australia’s rich tradition of living on the water’s edge. It also embodies the elegant extravagance associated with urban centres having vibrant beach cultures such as Miami and Gold Coast, which are, in many ways, twin cities.

As for Birch and Pezzi, their passion seeps out of the project. To them, Armorel is more than just a ticking of boxes—it’s a “labour of love.”

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