Cumulus House by Chris Connell is located on a steeply sloping block high above the Great Ocean Road.
The house is both intensely private and outward-looking. Screened off from the street by a minimalist façade, its unique northern orientation takes full advantage of the 180-degree views towards Bass Strait and the Separation Creek valley. Built as a weekend home for a young professional and their two children the house is paradigmatic of Californian modernism taking cues from the seminal post-war design era and the quintessential Australian fibro beach house typology. Organised across one level the elegantly Miesian box expressed in a singular form and supported on slender columns projects outwards into the tree canopy maximizing views of the landscape and gaining greater solar access.
Internal circulation is via a generous 2-meter-wide corridor with bedrooms to either side accessed by full height sliding doors and when open allows views diagonally through the living room to the ocean and valley beyond. Ensuring all habitable rooms are connected to the landscape private balconies off the two main bedrooms provide retreat from the rest of the house while the deep reveals breakup the building’s form and provide protection from the sun. At the end of the corridor sits a 4-sided fireplace finished in blackened steel, the obelisk form acts as an anchor to the house, positioned on its central axis. With the sliding glass doors open the fire can be enjoyed both from inside and outside.
Responding to the clients brief all the building’s service spaces were hidden and concealed allowing for uninterrupted engagement with the architecture and landscape beyond. Bathroom and laundry are concealed behind flush pivot doors with skylights providing natural light, positioned towards the rear corner of the building allowing to free the underside of the building from any visible service equipment. While external storerooms for utilities and beach equipment are behind hidden doors finished in the same external façade material.
Taking full advantage of the building’s northern orientation a 12-meter-wide glass sliding wall and outdoor deck maximizes indoor-outdoor living. The external steel pergola structural projects out over the deck a silhouette of the building’s structural rhythm. Canvas shade cloths attached to the structure add colour to the neutral building palette and provide sun shading, they can be repositioned or removed between the structural bays depending on the time of year.