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

Gardens

A WOW-Factor 'Secret Garden' In Blairgowrie

Ian Barker Gardens creates a private outdoor sanctuary on the Mornington Peninsula.

Interiors

A Before-And-After Interior Renovation That’ll Knock Your Socks Off!

AMA Studio Interiors transforms a rustic, wood-panelled cottage on the NSW Central Coast into dreamy family retreat.
Sasha Gattermayr
  1 hour ago
51:47

Podcast

Country Road’s Managing Director On The Stickiness Of Sustainable Fashion, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, Elle Roseby talks leading one of the country’s most iconic brands through a new age in the fashion industry....

Homes

A Designer’s 1970s Bells Beach Dream Home!

The incredible eclectic home of interior designer Léo Terrando and Jessica Watts, on Victoria's surf coast.

News

An Online Super Store + Subscription Service For All-Natural Goodies

GoodnessMe carries over 3,000 products from snacks to ready-made meals – with samples delivered to your door every month!
Sponsored

Studio Visit

Two Best Friends' Lockdown Hobby Turned Cult Candle Business

Creative entrepreneurs Ruby Kannava and Emma Cutri pooled their respective small business knowledge to found Blazed Wax - a colourful, cult-...

On The Market

A Light + Bright Beachside Home Hits The Market

This property in Sunrise Beach, Noosa is a full time home that feels like a holiday home - and it’s ready for new inhabitants!

Interiors

Get The Look: Dark + Moody Bathrooms And Kitchens

All the product and styling advice you need to achieve the dark, moody bathrooms and kitchen interiors trend, brought to you Oliveri.

News

Shop These Plush Woollen Rugs And Get A Special TDF Discount!

Carpet Court’s customisable rug range is made with 100% New Zealand wool and can be cut to suit the size, shape and colour of your interio...
Sponsored

Interiors

A Glam ’60s-Inspired Makeover For A Drab Suburban Home

Kaiko Design transform a forgettable suburban space into a ritzy family residence, with big personality!

News

Get Luxe Designer Furniture For Up To 15% Off!

Designer furniture retailer DOMO is discounting in-stock and custom items from HC28 + HC28 Cosmopolitan.
Sponsored

Architecture

Everything You Need To Know About Working With An Architect

Four of Australia's best architects answer your frequently asked questions, from what an architect does, to how much they cost!

News

The TDF ‘ALL THE THINGS’ 500k Giveaway!

Help us celebrate half a million (!) Insta followers with epic prize packs for three lucky readers! 

Interiors

A Joyful Home, Full Of Whimsy + Glamour

Scalloped edges and vibrant colours have elevated this Sydney terrace by Arent&Pyke.
Amelia Barnes
  9 hours ago

Architecture

A Modernist-Inspired Seaside Home

This adaptable, Victorian seaside home designed by Nest Architects and Placement blurs the line between modernism and contemporary design. ...

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

Interiors

Get The Look: Dark + Moody Bathrooms And Kitchens

All the product and styling advice you need to achieve the dark, moody bathrooms and kitchen interiors trend, brought to you Oliveri.

News

Shop These Plush Woollen Rugs And Get A Special TDF Discount!

Carpet Court’s customisable rug range is made with 100% New Zealand wool and can be cut to suit the size, shape and colour of your interio...
Sponsored

News

The TDF ‘ALL THE THINGS’ 500k Giveaway!

Help us celebrate half a million (!) Insta followers with epic prize packs for three lucky readers! 

Architecture

Everything You Need To Know About Working With An Architect

Four of Australia's best architects answer your frequently asked questions, from what an architect does, to how much they cost!

Gardens

A WOW-Factor 'Secret Garden' In Blairgowrie

Ian Barker Gardens creates a private outdoor sanctuary on the Mornington Peninsula.

Interiors

A Glam ’60s-Inspired Makeover For A Drab Suburban Home

Kaiko Design transform a forgettable suburban space into a ritzy family residence, with big personality!

Architecture

A Modernist-Inspired Seaside Home

This adaptable, Victorian seaside home designed by Nest Architects and Placement blurs the line between modernism and contemporary design. ...

Interiors

A Joyful Home, Full Of Whimsy + Glamour

Scalloped edges and vibrant colours have elevated this Sydney terrace by Arent&Pyke.
Amelia Barnes
  9 hours ago

Homes

A Designer’s 1970s Bells Beach Dream Home!

The incredible eclectic home of interior designer Léo Terrando and Jessica Watts, on Victoria's surf coast.

On The Market

A Light + Bright Beachside Home Hits The Market

This property in Sunrise Beach, Noosa is a full time home that feels like a holiday home - and it’s ready for new inhabitants!
51:47

Podcast

Country Road’s Managing Director On The Stickiness Of Sustainable Fashion, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, Elle Roseby talks leading one of the country’s most iconic brands through a new age in the fashion industry....

Studio Visit

Two Best Friends' Lockdown Hobby Turned Cult Candle Business

Creative entrepreneurs Ruby Kannava and Emma Cutri pooled their respective small business knowledge to found Blazed Wax - a colourful, cult-...

News

An Online Super Store + Subscription Service For All-Natural Goodies

GoodnessMe carries over 3,000 products from snacks to ready-made meals – with samples delivered to your door every month!
Sponsored

News

Get Luxe Designer Furniture For Up To 15% Off!

Designer furniture retailer DOMO is discounting in-stock and custom items from HC28 + HC28 Cosmopolitan.
Sponsored

Interiors

A Before-And-After Interior Renovation That’ll Knock Your Socks Off!

AMA Studio Interiors transforms a rustic, wood-panelled cottage on the NSW Central Coast into dreamy family retreat.
Sasha Gattermayr
  1 hour ago

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.