House at Big Hill

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Big Hill by Kerstin Thompson Architects.

Big Hill by Kerstin Thompson Architects. Image: Trevor Mein

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Big Hill by Kerstin Thompson Architects.

Big Hill by Kerstin Thompson Architects. Image: Trevor Mein

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Big Hill by Kerstin Thompson Architects.

Big Hill by Kerstin Thompson Architects. Image: Trevor Mein

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Big Hill by Kerstin Thompson Architects.

Big Hill by Kerstin Thompson Architects. Image: Trevor Mein

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Big Hill by Kerstin Thompson Architects.

Big Hill by Kerstin Thompson Architects. Image: Trevor Mein

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Winner of the 2012 Houses Award for ‘New House over 200m2’, this stunning home by Kerstin Thompson Architects was designed to provide “a solid retreat from which to contemplate the extremes of this beautiful west coast landscape.”

Jury comment

This house is a direct design response to site, form and utility of material, which combine to create a solid, robust shelter against the Southern Ocean’s exposure. Although the approach is from the ocean prospect, arrival and entry is from the north, immediately establishing “house as windbreak.” Disclosure of the view is subverted by the compressed triangular plan, yet the experience is heightened at the place where the prospect is most revered. In the words of the architect, “the right angle triangle is most productively aligned with the forces of the site. The long side of the triangle acts as a retaining wall struck against the slope of the land.” Inside this house, rooms slide into each other, dissolving the problem of further enclosure. The plan is unrestricted by the triangular geometry of the whole, and a sense of infinite space is achieved. Materials are reduced to a palette of concrete, glass and timber, underpinning the desire for a coastal retreat to be basic and creating an embedded modesty. This house is deceptively simple and its actual quality belies this simplicity, recalling the origins of the shack, creating an authentic, contemporary retreat. 


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