• West and south facades (Jim Whitelock).

Mont Mou, Noumea, New Caledonia, 1968–69

Bettina Paradise was developed by New Caledonia property entrepreneur Jean Nawa and his Australian wife Betty on twelve hectares of gently sloping land at the base of Mont Mou ('soft mountain') on the northwest outskirts of Noumea.

Snelling planned the new house in a U-format around their existing swimming pool, with all living areas and bedrooms opening onto the elevated terrace. Betty Nawa recalled that the house was designed like a tropical resort hotel. Because the Nawas intended a large family and servants to live there, Snelling planned a potential seven bedrooms, most including ensuites and walk-in wardrobes.

Architecturally, the highlight was Snelling’s dynamic roof composition of three extruded gables clad with wooden shingles. Two of these roofs, covering the bedroom wing and outdoor dining zone, were simple, low-pitched extrusions, but the main roof, over the living areas and facing the driveway, was dramatically tapered, twisted and tilted. and twisted. (Similar roof manipulations distinguished the 1990s architecture of Sydney architects Richard Leplastrier and Peter Stutchbury.) This main wing included a substantial concrete balcony off the living room, looking north over the driveway and expansive gardens.

Under the living area was a large garage, a studio (potentially divisible into two bedrooms), and an outdoor entry staircase, shielded by a white concrete wall with anthropomorphic cutouts suggesting eyes and a mouth. Upstairs, the open end of the pool terrace looked east toward extensive lawns, dotted with clusters of palms and flowering shrubs, landscaped by Werner (Vern) Kuchel. A shadier lawn, with borders of tropical shrubs and a fishpond, was developed on the south side of the house.

Sources

—Nawa, Betty. Personal communications, December 2002, and site visit, 2003.

—Pemberton, Gary J. 1984. Douglas B. Snelling: A Monograph of His Works (B. Arch dissertation). Sydney: New South Wales Institute of Technology.