A Rugged Building to Match the Landscape

Words by Anthony Richardson

Having engaged architects in the past, the clients knew they needed one to design a building which complements their existing suite of buildings on site. So Robert Nichol & sons were engaged to design Okios @ Breakneck Gorge, a short-term stay accommodation which is designed to match the rugged landscape.


Sitting in the beautifully rugged landscape in Elevated Plains, this short-term building provides not only privacy but amazing views. Having already engaged architects with previous builds, the clients approached Robert Nichol & sons. There were a few considerations during the design process, such as the need for privacy towards the homestead, viewpoints, minimal maintenance, and of course a connection to the stunning landscape.

The end result is a series of volumes sitting within a tight 70m2 plan. It’s been designed in such a way that you arrive into the open plan living, then to reach the bedroom you need to pass through the bathroom and dressing zone. With the clients wanting minimal on-going maintenance, Robert Nichol & sons explored a variety of cladding options but landed on Corten. The Corten cladding, however, wasn’t just restricted to the walls, but the roof as well, which gives the building a folded sculpture-like appearance.

Typically the builder, a metal fabricator and the installer would only really be engaged during either tendering stage or during construction. However, the technical issues to achieve a refined finish was important, so these trades were engaged during the design phase. The roof has multiple ridges and valleys, referencing the surrounding hills, which allows the cladding to truly express itself with angles and joins.

The building lifts itself off the ground as it begins to slope away, however, the architects wanted to anchor it to the site. A masonry wall made up of handmade dark bricks not only achieves that but provides contrast to the rusty Corten finish. Looking at the building from the outside, you wouldn’t expect what’s inside. Internally, a dark palette of materials is used, including timber as feature walls and floorboards. It takes on a rather “luxurious” appearance, with a feature bathtub, a stunning vanity and tap-ware, and a refined living space. There’s no doubt in my mind, from when visitors first approach the building and see the Corten folded sculpture, when they enter inside, when they have a bath looking out over the landscape, to when they leave, it all leaves a strong impression.

Okios @ Breakneck Gorge is a finalist in the ArchiTeam 2018 Awards for Residential New. The winners will be announced on Wednesday 14 November 2018 at 5 Easey Upstairs, 5 Easey Street, Collingwood. See ArchiTeam for more information.

The project successfully met all the clients’ expectations and more - they look out to a sculptured mix of corten form and long masonry blade, which reads neatly as a connection to the landscape rather than an inhabited space. Meanwhile, visitors enjoy spectacular framed views from the carefully placed and shaped windows and a level of internal amenity rarely offered on the market.


Project Name _ Oikos @ Breakneck Gorge
Architects _ 
Robert Nichol & sons | www.robertnicholandsons.com.au | @robert_nichol_and_sons
Location _ 
Elevated Plains
Area _ 70m²
Project Completed _ 2018
Photographer _ 
Jack Lovelwww.jacklovel.com | @jack.lovel

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Anthony Richardson