This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

This Non-Conventional Holiday Home Is Mostly Underground

Architecture

The views from this property in Flinders, Victoria are absolutely stunning, but they come from a house that is largely built underground. This may sound confusing or counterproductive, but the arrangement is necessary to overcome the home’s position on a landslip-affected zone. 

By anchoring bedrooms underground with a cantilevering living domain above, Rob Kennon Architects have mastered this site’s challenging requirements, while designing an all-round beautiful home.

5th October, 2020

Bluff House is located in Flinders, Victoria. Photo – Derek Swalwell

Cutting the centre of the site is the meeting point of two geologies, resulting in a landslip-affected zone. Photo – Derek Swalwell

The house was designed to be three quarters of the way underground, with an exposed living domain above. Photo – Derek Swalwell

Timber kitchen joinery. Photo – Derek Swalwell

The upper form correlates to the vast horizon and accentuates the dramatic panoramic views. Photo – Derek Swalwell

Imperfections in the stone and timber wall linings bring movement to the otherwise ordered structure. Photo – Derek Swalwell

Photo – Derek Swalwell

The upper level contains the open living area separates and two main bedrooms. Photo – Derek Swalwell

Photo – Derek Swalwell

Photo – Derek Swalwell

An outdoor living extends off the upper living space. Photo – Derek Swalwell

The basement area acts like a large occupied footing, anchoring the house deep into the escarpment. It contains additional bedrooms, a rumpus rooms, laundry and bathroom. Photo – Derek Swalwell

Photo – Derek Swalwell

Full-bleed glazing on the facade mirrors hues of the landscape.  Photo – Derek Swalwell

The coastal home sits as an object in the landscape. Photo – Derek Swalwell

Amelia Barnes
Monday 5th October 2020

‘They’re sort of the inverse of each other – a cosy space underneath, and then a very open, horizontal space upstairs.’ – Rob Kennon

Rob Kennon Architects have created plenty of beautiful homes, but none quite like Bluff House.

Located in Flinders, Victoria, the site of this home contains the meeting point of two geologies, resulting in a landslip-affected zone. ‘When building on a bluff, there’s a lot of geotechnical issues that you need to consider, to do with stability and to limit erosion,’ says Rob Kennon.

To overcome this, the house was designed three quarters of the way underground, with an exposed living domain above. The basement area acts like a large occupied footing, anchoring the house deep into the escarpment, while the upper level of the home provides light and views to the ocean. ‘You get this very dynamic situation where you’ve a very grounded area of the building, and then a very light area of the building,’ says Rob. ‘They’re sort of the inverse of each other – a cosy space underneath, and then a very open, horizontal space upstairs.’

Site requirements stipulated the house could only be built out to a certain point, but this was again overcome by clever planning. In response, two parallel plates cantilever off reinforced block work to extend the building over the landslip terrain and maximise views to the coastline. Rob explains, ‘You can’t build past a certain line, but we wanted to be past that line, so we needed to cantilever the upper floor to where we wanted to be… the upper level actually floats out many many metres.’

Minimising the relatively large house’s visual impact is the use of stained black spotted gum shiplap on the exterior, balanced with floor to ceiling glazing that mirrors hues of the landscape. In the words of Rob Kennon, this coastal home sits as an ‘object in the landscape’, co-existing but not integrating, compelling but not dominating. 

This Week

Architecture

This Sydney House Takes The High Ground

A previously granted development approval allowed the sandstone ridge on this Seaforth site to be cut away, but Stafford Architecture had ot...

Architecture

A Stunning Coastal Home, Created From A Revolutionary Building Material

This house by FMD Architects is built using CLT (cross laminated timber) – a revolutionary, sustainable building material.

Studio Visit

Artist Callum Preston Joins Forces With MONOPOLY and Movember, To Raise $150,000 For Men's Health

The Australian street artist reimagines 'MR MONOPOLY' in a new light – and it's all for a great cause!
Lucy Feagins
  Less than an hour ago

Homes

A Pint-Sized Coastal Home That Does More With Less!

Harriet Birrell aka Natural Harry, and building designer Fraser West, turned an exisiting structure into a dreamy 40 square metre home on Vi...
Lucy Feagins
  24 hours ago

Furniture

A Lush New Line Of Contemporary Furniture From Jardan

The ‘Living Form’ collection reinterprets Jardan’s classic designs, with traditional Australian textures - and some brand new silhouet...
Sasha Gattermayr

Art

The Artist Painting Her Way Through Lockdown

Regional NSW-based landscape artist Edwina Edwards retreats into nature for a new exhibition, ‘Bush Solace’.
Sasha Gattermayr

News

These Recycled Tote Bags Are The Real Deal!

The winner of 2019 TDF Design Awards Textile Design category, Georgina Whigham, debuts a new collection of zero waste denim bags with local
Sasha Aarons

Architecture

A Generous, Light-Filled Addition To A Heritage Home

A restoration and renovation project in Kensington, NSW by Studio Prineas creates a harmonious dialogue between old and new.
Sasha Gattermayr
  16 hours ago

Architecture

A Mood-Enhancing Melbourne Home

Kennedy Nolan have knocked it out of the park again, transforming a Victorian house with a dated extension into a cohesive home, with uplift...

Creative People

Australia's Original Instagram Secondhand Furniture Seller

We chat with OG Instagram seller Pip Newell of Curated Spaces, about how she grew her business out of her living room to a network of more t...

TDF Design Awards

You’re Invited To The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards 2020!

Join us on November 5th at 7pm for our online ceremony as we celebrate the finalists and reveal all the winners – and WIN a bespoke sculpt...

On The Market

The Colourful Beach House Of Kip&Co’s Co-Founder Is For Sale!

The renovated 1970s beach house in Sorrento, Victoria, of Kip&Co's Kate Heppell has hit the market.

Design Eye

Studio Martin on Refined Rattan

Emerging design duo Lauren and Amanda Martin share their advice on using rattan furniture in contemporary interiors, in partnership with DOM...

Homes

A Rustic, Inner-City Family Home Of 33 Years

Inside a Cornish/Spanish/Greek style home terrace renovation – in Port Melbourne!

News

Space Furniture Is Having An EPIC End Of Year Sale Right Now!

Enjoy savings of up to 50% off (!!) furniture, lighting, and accessories from some of our favourite local and international designers, both
Sponsored

View Comments

Similar Stories

Architecture

An Action-Packed, Compact City Home

A formerly unliveable art deco house in Northcote gets a major overhaul by Rob Kennon Architects.

Architecture

A Historical-Style Beach House That Expands With The Seasons

The Township Residence by Wolveridge is a new home, fully informed by Sorrento’s traditional vernacular.
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

An Ocean-Side Sanctuary Designed To Age Gracefully

This awe-inspiring Ocean Grove house by Auhaus Architecture is a warm but robust home, designed to withstand ferocious weather conditions.
Sasha Gattermayr

This Week

Creative People

Australia's Original Instagram Secondhand Furniture Seller

We chat with OG Instagram seller Pip Newell of Curated Spaces, about how she grew her business out of her living room to a network of more t...

Architecture

A Mood-Enhancing Melbourne Home

Kennedy Nolan have knocked it out of the park again, transforming a Victorian house with a dated extension into a cohesive home, with uplift...

Furniture

A Lush New Line Of Contemporary Furniture From Jardan

The ‘Living Form’ collection reinterprets Jardan’s classic designs, with traditional Australian textures - and some brand new silhouet...
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

A Stunning Coastal Home, Created From A Revolutionary Building Material

This house by FMD Architects is built using CLT (cross laminated timber) – a revolutionary, sustainable building material.

Studio Visit

Artist Callum Preston Joins Forces With MONOPOLY and Movember, To Raise $150,000 For Men's Health

The Australian street artist reimagines 'MR MONOPOLY' in a new light – and it's all for a great cause!
Lucy Feagins
  Less than an hour ago

Homes

A Pint-Sized Coastal Home That Does More With Less!

Harriet Birrell aka Natural Harry, and building designer Fraser West, turned an exisiting structure into a dreamy 40 square metre home on Vi...
Lucy Feagins
  24 hours ago

News

These Recycled Tote Bags Are The Real Deal!

The winner of 2019 TDF Design Awards Textile Design category, Georgina Whigham, debuts a new collection of zero waste denim bags with local
Sasha Aarons

Design Eye

Studio Martin on Refined Rattan

Emerging design duo Lauren and Amanda Martin share their advice on using rattan furniture in contemporary interiors, in partnership with DOM...

Art

The Artist Painting Her Way Through Lockdown

Regional NSW-based landscape artist Edwina Edwards retreats into nature for a new exhibition, ‘Bush Solace’.
Sasha Gattermayr

Homes

A Rustic, Inner-City Family Home Of 33 Years

Inside a Cornish/Spanish/Greek style home terrace renovation – in Port Melbourne!

TDF Design Awards

You’re Invited To The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards 2020!

Join us on November 5th at 7pm for our online ceremony as we celebrate the finalists and reveal all the winners – and WIN a bespoke sculpt...

Architecture

This Sydney House Takes The High Ground

A previously granted development approval allowed the sandstone ridge on this Seaforth site to be cut away, but Stafford Architecture had ot...

On The Market

The Colourful Beach House Of Kip&Co’s Co-Founder Is For Sale!

The renovated 1970s beach house in Sorrento, Victoria, of Kip&Co's Kate Heppell has hit the market.

Architecture

A Generous, Light-Filled Addition To A Heritage Home

A restoration and renovation project in Kensington, NSW by Studio Prineas creates a harmonious dialogue between old and new.
Sasha Gattermayr
  16 hours ago

News

Space Furniture Is Having An EPIC End Of Year Sale Right Now!

Enjoy savings of up to 50% off (!!) furniture, lighting, and accessories from some of our favourite local and international designers, both
Sponsored

Similar Stories

Architecture

An Action-Packed, Compact City Home

A formerly unliveable art deco house gets a major overhaul by Rob Kennon Architects.

Architecture

A Historical-Style Beach House That Expands With The Seasons

The Township Residence by Wolveridge is a new home, fully informed by Sorrento’s traditional vernacular.
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

An Ocean-Side Sanctuary Designed To Age Gracefully

This awe-inspiring Ocean Grove house by Auhaus Architecture is a warm but robust home, designed to withstand ferocious weather conditions.
Sasha Gattermayr

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.