Melbourne home takes prestigious award

19 August 2019

Michael Ellis Architects' award winning beach house.

A beach house overlooking the Bass Strait has won an award at the prestigious South East Master Builders Regional Building Awards.

Designed by Melbourne architect Michael Ellis, the family retreat ‘Inverloch’ won the award for best custom home $1-2 million.

Situated two hours out of Melbourne, the house boasts stunning views of the ocean from its location on a wind-swept hill. It was the first joint project for Michael Ellis Architects and local builders SJ Vuillermin Master Builders, and was designed for a family returning to Australia after 14 years overseas.

Michael discovered, on visiting the site and talking to locals, that the rural location posed the challenges of gale-force winds and poor views to the south. His solution was to limit views to the south by manipulating the facade, a technique inspired by the Ronchamp chapel, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed church near Paris.

The small French chapel was designed by the modernist Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier, and its main feature is how the passage of light and views are carefully controlled through its design.

Michael Ellis.

 Michael says: “We saw Inverloch as a retreat, and that’s where the association comes back to Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp. It’s also my little tongue-in-cheek view of society that people would worship the beach more than they worship a church.”

The house features a two-storey hand-laid sandstone wall, a large skylight that can be opened to act as a thermal chimney to cool the house in the summer, and a handmade fireplace that the clients bought while on holiday in France. There are five different materials on the external walls, and home automated technology allows the family to control the temperature and blinds via the internet before arrival.

The company’s designs received industry acclaim when Michael’s Yellingbo Artist’s Residence was featured on LifeStyle Channel’s Grand Designs Australia.