Season 02 - Episode 05

Media Gallery

One of the most popular parts of the Australian coastline is the Great ocean road in Victoria. Along its stretch are literally thousands of SANDCASTLES, so to make the cut to be featured on this years series, the design has to be pretty special. We strive to visit only the very best architecturally designed beach houses and one, which made the cut, was the Ocean House at Lorne by colourful Melbourne architect Rob Mills.

The site like most houses along here is cut off from the water by the famous road and this one is no different. But while the house has views across the ocean its the views of the bush gully behind that dare I say, are better then the sea. The house is built at the bottom of a gully but stands tall over 4 levels. Its the architects own get away for himself and young family and he never let his limited budget stand in the way of imagination.

The house is built in a high-level bush fire zone and although Rob always dreamt of building a timber like beach shack, it wasn't practical. He moved to concrete and boy didn't that open up the possibilities. The design shifted from timber shack to concrete castle sculptured around two simple geometric shapes. A rectangle would be the plan for all the living spaces that embrace the views. A circle would contain the main sleeping areas. This is very much a medieval concept and here it is employed with powerful results. 

Every house should have a sense of 'refuge' - that is inside you feel safe and protected from the world outside and that is balanced with sense of 'prospect' - that is you get to see from your place of refuge the world outside. The Ocean House is with its simple use of the circle and the square creates these two basic principles of house design.

This house is also a great lesson in how to finance a design that is out of your reach. The house can easily be divided in two and be rented out as holiday apartments or easily be turned back into a luxury multi-story home. Don't miss the top deck with its outdoor fire pit that is the pinnacle at the top of the round castle like bastion.

This is a SANDCASTLE designed by an architect for himself.  That's sometimes fraught with danger. The main one being how does a creative mind with no client limitations rein in all the possibilities. Here the architect has achieved his creative goals and found a way of paying for them yet not compromise on his ideas. That is a big achievement.

Check out this great Ocean House on the Great Ocean Road.