Jun 27, 2012

Big Hill House :: New Work from Kerstin Thompson Architects

High on a hill,
above the legendary Great Ocean Road,
and overlooking the magnificent Bass Strait,
is a new, very quietly calm house by Kerstin Thompson Architects.

The clients requested a "solid house",
and the building does answer that desire,
with a simple palette of oiled timbers and concrete block walls.

Resisting the temptation to simply sweep the facade with window-walls,
instead the "solid house" feel was enhanced with pocket windows,
carved out of the dense walls,
as if to provide port holes through which to isolate and frame the view.

This is a very ruggedly stunning part of Australia.
Few who visit are not enchanted with its wild beauty.
But the winds can roar,
and the chill can be icy in winter.
A house here needs to be both a gloriously cosy retreat in winter,
but cool in summer.
Concrete floors and blockwork walls achieve both.
They work as a heat bank, with their great thermal masses absorbing
heat from the sun streaming through the windows on winter's days,
releasing it back at night.
And in summer, by absorbing the heat from the room and keeping it cool.
It's a very effective and simple regulator.

Big Hill House plays with light and shadow,
cool grey concrete and warm timbers;
to produce a home which reflects & echoes its surrounds. 
The building is not fussy - instead it is intimate,
with the same wild untamed beauty as the ocean outside.
It's the kind of beauty 
which is not necessarily revealed by the camera lens,
but one which is almost more emotional,
needing to be experienced in real life. 
Just the kind of space where one feels safe and quiet,
without especially needing to analyse why.


  1. Oh my, how absolutely gorgeous. This is my kind of home. Solid but simple in design, warm and commanding.of its surroundings! I love it. G.x

  2. such a super talented design firm. i remember first reading about them years ago - and they had their first (?) office in smith street, fitzroy - just around the corner from our first office. I used to walk past and wonder what magic they were creating. seems they have been doing great work for many many years. great home VB (-: (hope you are fantastically well!!!)

    1. I too admire their work. Their houses are not flashy, but they have what I would call "soul".

  3. I can think of nothing better than this house - solid, shadowy, and dappled with light- the perfect refuge.

  4. What an amazing lookout and fantastic home, love it!
    Have a great week. Cx

  5. Interesting. When I first looked at it I thought "no way!" but the longer I look, the more I get it and the more I like it! :)

    1. That's fascinating Heather! And glad you pondered it for long enough, with an open mind, to give it a chance.

  6. What a view!!! A perfect refuge!

  7. Fabulous! The right balance of clean lines and warmth for me. I love the concrete block walls, picture windows and wood heater xx

    1. Yes, you've said it perfectly - it's all about getting the balance right. And it does, I agree.

  8. This place is seriously amazing Virginia, I adore pretty much everything about it. Simply dreamy.
    Hope you are well sweets, today it is sunny here - yay :)

    1. glad you are getting some sunshine at last! It is SO cold today here that I cannot even imagine it being warm, let alone hot!

  9. An incredible structure - very impressive. I agree with an earlier comment - the house grew on me as I continued looking, and by the end I felt that it was magnificent - so solid and warmly enveloping.
    Best wishes from England,
    Paula x


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