Great Ocean Road Villa, Victoria, Australia

Along the iconic Great Ocean Road, on a family owned block, our clients asked MAAPS to design a new-build contemporary 400m² two-story 5-bedroom detached residence. The site was chosen for a combination of its natural sublime majesty and the family’s long-standing connection to this part of Australia.

Our brief: To conceive a generous and sustainable “off grid” multi-generational family home; To design a building to withstand the climatic extremes and exposure of the site; to demonstrate a responsible approach to energy conservation; and to coexist with its unique setting.

As with many coastal developments, the design of the home focuses on the careful organisation of the first-floor living space to capture the stunning 360 degree coastal panoramas, sunrises, and sunsets while preserving visual privacy from neighbouring residences.

All rooms at the upper floor level open out either to an expansive terrace deck or onto sheltered balconies. The overall aim within the scheme is to embrace the visual drama of the rugged ocean coast to the southwest as well as capturing the tranquil inland river estuary aspect to the east.

The ground floor level comprises 4 bedrooms, a study and a family room which open onto a shaded veranda and sculpted garden areas. The plot is screened from neighbours by a perimeter gabion wall which act as a wind break to the persistent prevailing coastal winds. As part of the overall landscaping and garden design the gabion walls are to be seeded with indigenous plants and vegetation to encourage biodiversity, retention of water, and overtime to provide a softened green enclosure for the development.

The exposed coastal setting presented our team with the challenge of designing for both extremes of temperature and often aggressive climatic/weather conditions. To mitigate these extremes, we have selected the locally quarried basalt Bluestone as the primary outward cladding to the main building; not only for its inherent durability, but also for its thermal mass qualities and the 1850’s “Gold Rush” era architectural heritage that this material recalls.

A balance of solar screening and deep inset perimeter windows filter the harsh summer glare while the orientation of the remaining windows allow for passive heat gain during the colder winter months.

High levels of insulation are specified as a “fabric-first” approach to the construction of the building. This is the most efficient, sustainable and cost effective construction method to limit both heat gain and prevent heat loss to the structure. Extensive use of solar panels and on-site battery storage will allow the property to be self-sufficient for its power requirements; including the running of air source heat pumps and the ducted air system planned within the building. Rainwater harvesting tanks within the site will ensure capture and retention of the available water for “grey water” and garden use.

While attention and priority are given to sustainability credentials, biodiversity, durability and climate resistance, this is ultimately a scheme about designing an attractive, welcoming, protective, and adaptive “life-time” residence. Working in close consultation with the local planning authorities, the architectural design aspires to define a new standard for local coastal architecture within this district and provide our client’s family with a distinctive, sustainable and carbon neutral home.

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