Building in response to the surrounds and the view

MIXED MATERIALS: The use of timbers, neutral tones and natural finishes enhance the bush landscape surrounding the house and enhance the relaxing beach house vibe. Photos: Ben Hosking.
MIXED MATERIALS: The use of timbers, neutral tones and natural finishes enhance the bush landscape surrounding the house and enhance the relaxing beach house vibe. Photos: Ben Hosking.

Sitting on extremely steep topography surrounded by bush, building on this block in Lorne was always going to be challenging. Architect Lachlan Shepherd was up for the challenges however, and the Skyline House is a modern marvel, a comfortable modernist home with beach views to boot.

Shepherd had to consider not only the steep incline of the block, but also its positioning in a high Bushfire Prone Area, with the rear of the property abutting native bushland. This is also the northern aspect of the property, so creative solutions were needed in order to meet the designated Bushfire Attack Level (BAL), while still allowing for northern sun into the living spaces.

SOLID: Long-lasting materials and the sturdy construction already required for the BAL rating prevent any external deterioration caused by the proximity to the ocean

SOLID: Long-lasting materials and the sturdy construction already required for the BAL rating prevent any external deterioration caused by the proximity to the ocean

The main consideration was capturing the panoramic ocean views and ensuring they were a feature in each space. The design also had to use the site's slope to its advantage, otherwise the result would be rooms buried into the hill, unable to capture any views of the ocean. What could have been seen as a hindrance was used as an advantage, and the slope has been utilised to create different and interesting spaces fit for purpose, whether it be private internal or open outdoor spaces, that can grasp either the sunlight or the view. The house has a relaxing flow down to the water, with the hills and bush acting as a tranquil backdrop.

Long-lasting materials and the sturdy construction already required for the BAL rating prevent any external deterioration caused by the proximity to the ocean. "We essentially turned our back on the bushfire threat and utilised the sloping site to our advantage to 'step' up the hill and take advantage of the view corridors provided as one ascended the site," says Lachlan.

The heavy, bushfire resistant materials did prove difficult to deliver and move around site, due to the steepness of the single road. Further refinement however resulted in materials that could be easily adapted to the slope of the site. Internally, the use of timbers, neutral tones and natural finishes enhance the bush landscape surrounding the house and enhance the relaxing beach house vibe. "The palette was selected to firstly respond to significant constraints with regard to bushfire compliance, which secondly had inherent qualities with regard to longevity in coastal environs," says Lachlan.

ELEVATE: The steep block could have been seen as a hindrance, but was used as an advantage, resulting in private spaces that capture either the sunlight or the view.

ELEVATE: The steep block could have been seen as a hindrance, but was used as an advantage, resulting in private spaces that capture either the sunlight or the view.

The design sees the house step up the hillside in split level zones: a carport/storage at the lowest level, living zones on the central level and bedroom zones at the highest level. With living areas and bedroom areas essentially on different floors, uninterrupted views have been maximised and there are courtyards for light and outdoor living.