One of Australia’s best-known houses has finally fulfilled its promise as a house of international distinction. Faceted in Viridian glass, it soars towards notoriety with an artful makeover that finally embraces its sublime location. The Pole House at Fairhaven on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road is a landmark structure in any language. It’s the structural exclamation mark with a grin. In some people’s eyes its rude and crude. For others it’s the welcome rule-breaker. It emerged in the mid-1970s as a stunning climax on a treacherous, unstable site. Born again with more glass and sharp technology, its recent transformation fully capitalizes on a peerless vantage point.
The original pole house initially attracted scorn with its rocket-like construction that seemed to fly in the face of planning regulations. The house gradually settled in the psyche of travelers like an old friend and as an unofficial exclamation mark to usher in the Great Ocean Road. News some six years ago that the house faced re-development aroused fears that its eccentricity could be lost. Perched 15metres above its vertiginous ridge position, the pole house is the house that could never be built today. Height restrictions would see such an idea shot out of the sky.
Franco Fiorentini of F2 Architecture and his clients looked, listened and clearly interpreted possibilities. Its previously cramped interior and a layout focused around a quaint cruciform core instead of the views, were out of step with contemporary needs. His clients decided to include a two-storey counterpoint residence that sits unobtrusively at the rear of the site amongst the vegetation. Using the skeleton of the original, Fiorentini’s redesign offers a cinematic take on the coast, ocean and sky.
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Photography by Peter and Jennifer Hyatt.
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