Head to This Cor-Ten Steel Cabin Perched on an Australian Gorge

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By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo
Oikos is a sculptural hideaway set on a private homestead in Hepburn Springs, where guests can bask in sprawling views while enjoying luxe amenities.

Named Oikos, a moniker derived from the ancient Greek word for home, this Cor-Ten steel vacation home resides in Hepburn Springs, Australia—a resort town about 90 minutes from Melbourne often referred to as "the spa center of Australia." Architectural firm Robert Nichol & Sons were tasked with constructing a holiday rental that would complement the already existing structures on their client’s sprawling property, called Breakneck Gorge, which include a homestead, another short-term rental, and some agricultural buildings.

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One of two rental properties on Breakneck Gorge in Victoria, Australia, Oikos boasts a generous viewing deck to take in the sweeping vista.

One of two rental properties on Breakneck Gorge in Victoria, Australia, Oikos boasts a generous viewing deck to take in the sweeping vista.

The architects also sought to take advantage of the site’s spectacular scenery. "We knew our design had to respect and connect with this stunning location," they explain. "This region has a plethora of available short-term stays, but given the unique potential this site offered, connection to the landscape was critical."  

In order to maintain privacy for both guests and homeowners, Oikos was designed with the strongest viewpoints in mind, capturing the best vistas while sheltering views back to the homestead.   

In order to maintain privacy for both guests and homeowners, Oikos was designed with the strongest viewpoints in mind, capturing the best vistas while sheltering views back to the homestead.   

The final outcome ensured that the design would "work with the land, not against it." Because a single material forms the exterior of the entire structure, as opposed to separate wall and roof finishes, the dwelling appears folded in upon itself, taking on a sculptural quality.

Cor-Ten steel was selected both for its aesthetic appeal and its ability to integrate into the landscape, evolving over time and with the seasons. It also met the client's request for a building that didn't require ongoing external maintenance. 

Cor-Ten steel was selected both for its aesthetic appeal and its ability to integrate into the landscape, evolving over time and with the seasons. It also met the client's request for a building that didn't require ongoing external maintenance. 

The 753-square-foot layout presents a series of interesting volumes that are discovered as one moves through the space. 

The 753-square-foot layout presents a series of interesting volumes that are discovered as one moves through the space. 

The open-plan living space provides a front-row seat to the spectacular scenery, which is framed by floor-to-ceiling sliding doors that further integrate the outdoors.

The open-plan living space provides a front-row seat to the spectacular scenery, which is framed by floor-to-ceiling sliding doors that further integrate the outdoors.

The minimalist interiors frame the spectacular surroundings, ceding to the scenery rather than competing with it. The layout is correspondingly simple: "The decision was made very early on to remove any dedicated circulation space, instead adopting a simple sequence of arrival into the open plan living, transitioning through the dressing and bathing zone, and finally into the bedroom."

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The bedroom also boasts a wall of sliding glass doors that open the home to its surroundings. 

The bedroom also boasts a wall of sliding glass doors that open the home to its surroundings. 

The minimalist material palette incorporates light and shadows into a tonal, textural mix. The dark flooring and paneling are both Nero Oak Volcano from Mafi.  

The minimalist material palette incorporates light and shadows into a tonal, textural mix. The dark flooring and paneling are both Nero Oak Volcano from Mafi.  

The bathroom wall tiles are a Japanese product from Inax, called Sekhia. The sink vanity is made from Black Marquina marble, and the aged bronze faucets were sourced from Brodware.

The bathroom wall tiles are a Japanese product from Inax, called Sekhia. The sink vanity is made from Black Marquina marble, and the aged bronze faucets were sourced from Brodware.

The minimalist bathroom provides a calm, introspective experience.

The minimalist bathroom provides a calm, introspective experience.

The dramatic, handmade, black concrete soaking tub is from Boyd Alternatives, a local Victorian company that produces handmade baths. The color is an addition to the concrete mix. 

The dramatic, handmade, black concrete soaking tub is from Boyd Alternatives, a local Victorian company that produces handmade baths. The color is an addition to the concrete mix. 

The home steeps in dramatic views of the gorge.

The home steeps in dramatic views of the gorge.

Oikos floor plan

Oikos floor plan

Oikos site plan

Oikos site plan

Oikos can now be booked for short-term stays. 

Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: Robert Nichol & Sons / @robert_nichol_and_sons
Builder/General Contractor: Nick Andrew Construction
Structural Engineer: Meyer Consulting
Lighting Design: Robert Nichol & Sons
Interior Design: Robert Nichol & Sons