2012 National Architecture Awards: Residential – Houses

Big Hill by Kerstin Thompson Architects Residential Architecture – Houses: National Commendation Australian Institute of Architects

Jury citation

Perched above the Great Ocean Road in coastal Victoria, Big Hill sits firmly within its site. Facing south-east, the house surveys Bass Strait through native landscape, and a curation of vistas is displayed. Arrival through the large north-facing entrance introduces the inhabitant to a series of intimate dwelling experiences. The dark, robust palette of materials heightens one’s sense of containment within the dwelling and focuses the gaze towards the portals for glimpses of the landscape.

The triangulated planning allows for the south-eastern facade to be dedicated to communal living, while the western end of the house provides carefully crafted bedroom and amenity zones. Internally, at ground level, one is aware that the house is providing retainment to the landscape behind. Externally, the house stands singular and commanding in its formal arrangement, assuming the role of a wall.

This house is a reminder of how Victorian beach houses can struggle with the dilemma of facing south. Through the careful articulation of space, Big Hill has successfully defined the interior as borrowed exterior.

Big Hill was also a winner at the 2012 Houses Awards.


Kerstin Thompson Architects
Melbourne, Vic, Australia
Project Team
Kerstin Thompson, Lynn Chew, Laurance Dragamir, Julian Patterson, Sophie Herel, Michael Artemenko, Gemma Hohnen, Jacqui Alexander
Builder KA and JA Wylie
Building surveyor Brian Sherwell and Associates
Cost planner Construction Planning and Economics
Engineer Tattersall Engineering Consultants
Fire protection Community Safety Services
Land surveyor David McLennan and Associates
Landscape Otways Indigenous Nursery
Structural engineer SEMF Pty Ltd
Site details
Location Great Ocean Road,  Melbourne,  Vic,  Australia
Category Residential buildings
Type Houses, Residential
Project Details
Status Built



Published online: 2 Nov 2012
Words: National Architecture Awards Jury 2012
Images: Trevor Mein


Architecture Australia, November 2012

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